Egyptian Culture

Communication

Verbal

  • Communication Style: Egyptians are quite expressive and passionate when they  converse. They have a tendency to be evocative and verbose by telling stories and using wordplay and jokes. They are generally open and emotive, displaying happiness and gratitude freely. Emotions relating to grief and sorrow are also widely expressed, particularly in the case of death of a loved one. However, public displays of anger are discouraged and may be interpreted as an insult.
  • Indirect Communication: Egyptians generally communicate in an manner. They tend to avoid replying with a ‘no’ and instead usually offer a lengthy reply that may not answer the question. However, depending on the context of the conversation and who they are communicating with, they may be in some instances. For example, someone of seniority by position or age may be more when conversing with those below them. The use of communication in these occasional instances is rarely intended to offend the conversation partner.
  • Humour: Egyptians often use humour in their conversations and find it encouraging when their jokes are appreciated. When meeting an Egyptian for the first time, it is common for them to say a joke or two.


Non-Verbal

  • Physical Contact: The appropriateness of touching during conversations depends on the relationship between the people interacting. Close friends and family will frequently touch each other while acquaintances will generally refrain from doing so. and expectations of physical contact also often depend on the gender of the people interacting. For example, good friends of the same gender may hold hands or kiss when greeting in public. On the other hand, there is little to no public display of affection between opposite genders during conversation or when in public places, with the exception of married couples who may walk arm in arm.
  • Personal Space: The common physical distance maintained between people is usually an arm’s length. The acceptable proximity may vary depending on the genders of the two people interacting with one another. For example, women may stand closer to each other, whilst people generally prefer to keep a bigger distance from those of the opposite gender .
  • Gestures: Touching all four fingers to the thumb with the palm facing inwards then shaking it up and down is used to tell someone to ‘wait a moment’. To point, one usually uses their index finger.
  • Beckoning: To beckon someone, Egyptians tend to whistle, clap or say ‘psst’.
  • Eye Contact: eye contact is acceptable in most cases and is valued as a sign of respect to the speaker as well as a sign of honesty and sincerity. Sometimes, Egyptians will hold an intense stare, meaning that their eye contact may be stronger than what is typical in Australia. However, in accordance to Islamic principles, males and females may be expected to lower their gaze and avoid sustained eye contact with each other. This is considered respectful and observant of the partition between genders.

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