Colombian Culture

Greetings

  • A firm handshake with eye contact and a smile is the appropriate greeting in most situations.
  • Men should wait for a woman to extend her hand first.
  • Women may hold each other’s forearms instead of shaking hands.
  • Once people become acquainted, greetings become a lot warmer and Colombians often prefer to embrace (abrazo). This involves a hug accompanied with a pat on the shoulder or elbow (between men) or a kiss on the right cheek (between women).
  • The common verbal greeting is “Buenos dias” (Good day), “Buenas tardes” (good afternoon) or “Buenas noches” (good evening/night) depending on the time of day.
  • The formal title to greet people with is ‘señor’ (mister) for men and ‘señora’ (missus) for women.
  • People may call each other a ‘primo’ (cousin) or ‘vecino’ (neighbour) out of affection when they may not be that close to you.
  • It is common politeness to show personal interest in a person whilst greeting. Enquire about their family and health.
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