Potential difficulties that could arise out of the differing cultural groups

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When people have guests from other ethnic groups and religions, they tend to be very fastidious about hospitality, and an offer of food is an essential etiquette requirement. Offering an indecent food may be offensive to the guests. For example, a Chinese family hosts Malay friends or neighbours to visit and eat delicacies during religious holidays. If non-halal foods are served, the Malay guests may feel disrespected. To avoid such an awkward situation, the Chinese must be cautious in preparing the foods.

Gift giving is a courteous behaviour and common custom in every culture irrespective of age, race, creed or color, and also one of the decent ways to express concern, gratitude and appreciation. However, we must take into account that what kind of gift to give will not cause a misunderstanding. As for instance, buying a clock as a present for any Chinese friends is taboo in Chinese culture. The word “clock” has similar sound with the “end” in Chinese Mandarin, giving a clock as a gift sounds like being a gift at the bedside when a Chinese person takes his last breath.

Certain colors such as white and black are considered inauspicious. The white and black color tend to be equated to that of mourning or death while the red color is considered a very auspicious color for new year festivals, weddings and other happy occasions. Wearing a black shirt or skirt to attend a Chinese wedding ceremony will be regarded as an impoliteness and will make the host feels uncomfortable. These auspiciousness and inauspiciousness are identically carrying the same weight in Indian tradition. Therefore, we must be extremely discreet when attending other culture occasions, try to dress up decently.