Iranian Culture


  • It is generally expected that the person with the lower status greet the other individual first. Therefore, it is polite to offer your greeting first to indicate that you consider your counterpart to be of a higher status than you, regardless of what your actual status is relative to the other person.
  • Use a person’s title and last name when greeting them until they indicate it is okay to move on to a first-name basis. Men should be formally addressed as 'agha', and women as 'khanoom', followed by their surname. If someone is a Doctor or holds a PhD, use their professional title.
  • Titles can also be used to address a person by their first name. This indicates a more acquainted relationship whilst still giving respect. For women, the title comes after their first name (i.e. “[first name] Khanoom”). It is interchangeable for men (i.e. “Agha [first name]” or “[first name] Agha”).
  • The Persian word “Salam” means “Hello”.
  • Greetings may involve a handshake with the right hand only. Men and women generally will not shake hands unless the female outstretches her hand first and the man is willing to reciprocate the gesture.
  • Iranian men commonly greet women by placing their hand over their heart and nodding/bowing gently. This greeting may also be used with other people who they perceive are unaccustomed to being touched.
  • For a Western woman, it is best to bow to greet an Iranian man and wait for him to initiate a further handshake if he feels comfortable.
  • Greetings may involve two or three kisses on each cheek if the other person is the same gender.
  • Women generally greet other women with a handshake for the first time, and may embrace the next time they see each other and from then on. However, if they are in conservative company, they may restrict how affectionately they greet each other to avoid drawing negative attention.

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