- Greetings are very important in Malaysia and are thought to indicate the respect you will show an individual from then on.
- When greeting a group of people, the oldest person should be greeted first.
- Always address individuals according to their appropriate titles (i.e. Mr, Mrs, Doctor) unless they specifically ask you speak more casually. If you indicate that you prefer to be addressed on a first name basis, you may find they feel more comfortable to continue to use your title and last name.
- The common Malay verbal greeting is “Salaam”.
- Elders may be address as “pakcik” (uncle) or “makcik” (aunty) out of respect. You may similarly be referred to in this way by people younger than yourself.
- The common greeting across all is a handshake. However, physical contact between men and women is not permitted in all circumstances. If greeting a Malaysian woman, wait to see if she extends her hand first before offering to shake.
- People may put one hand over their chest and give a slight nod to greet those they perceive are unaccustomed to being touched.
- Muslim Malays may greet people of the same gender by using both hands to grasp the other person’s.
- Formal greetings involve extending both hands to the recipient's right hand and placing it between one’s own. The individual then makes a small bow and place their own right hand on their heart.
- Bow the head slightly to greet someone older. If in a more formal setting, place the forehead or the tip of the nose on the back of the elder recipient's hand.
- Older Malaysian Chinese may lower their gaze out of respect during a greeting.
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