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 power distance 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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