Turkish Culture

Greetings

  • People generally greet one another with a handshake when meeting for the first time. However, some Muslims may prefer not to touch people of the opposite gender.
  • The common greeting among friends and family is generally to give one or two kisses to the other person’s cheek.
  • It is polite to give a slight bow or nod to someone of authority (older or superior) as you greet them.
  • Women may only give a physical greeting to other women (i.e. with a handshake or kiss). Married women may be more hesitant to touch other men in greetings.
  • Elders are approached first and treated with more respect during greetings. It is especially respectful to kiss them on their right hand and then place it to your own forehead.
  • People commonly greet each other by saying “Nasilsiniz” (How are you?) or “Merhaba” (Hello). The Islamic greeting is “Asalamu alaykum” (Peace be upon you).
  • People are often addressed by their first name followed with “Bey” for men and “Hanim” for women. For example, “Yusuf Bey” and “Elif Hanim”.
  • People who have a professional title expect it to be used, e.g. Doctor or Professor. This includes other professions such as lawyers (Avukat) and engineers (Muhendis).
  • Turks may call someone whom they are not related to ‘abla’ (older sister) or ‘abi’ (older brother). This kind of address acknowledges the in the relationship whilst indicating fondness. 
  • It may be harder to end a conversation with a Turkish person than it is to start one. Farewells are typically prolonged as Turks have a tendency to restart conversation whilst saying goodbyes. The easiest way to end a conversation is to use a conventional expression that politely asks to leave with their permission – “İzninizle” (with your permission).

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