Sri Lankan Culture

Do's and Don'ts

Do’s

  • Use open-ended questions and watch body language to understand how a Sri Lankan feels about something. They are unlikely to speak openly when they disagree with something.
  • Treat Sri Lankan elders with visible respect. For example, address them first and defer to their opinion.
  • Sri Lankans tend to be reluctant to criticise. It is best to reciprocate this through remaining polite, modest and gentle in order to give and avoid losing face for both yourself and your Sri Lankan counterpart.
  • Be sensitive and understanding, especially with respect to the recent civil conflict. Sri Lankans are likely to warm to those who exhibit sympathy where it is appropriate.


Don'ts

  • Avoid raising your voice or showing strong displays of negative emotion. Sri Lankans generally view this as a loss of control.
  • Drawing parallels between Sri Lanka and India may offend your Sri Lankan counterpart. Sri Lankans take great pride in being culturally and politically distinct from India.
  • Politics and the civil conflict in Sri Lanka are sensitive topics. It is best not to initiate a conversation on the matter unless you know the person well. If the topic does arise, be sensitive about the grief and trauma that your Sri Lankan counterpart may have experienced.
  • A person’s religious affiliations are also a sensitive topic, avoid discussing alternative religious views unless you know the person well.
  • Avoid touching or sitting on any image or statue of the Buddha.
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