Across America the population is becoming much more
diverse than ever before in our nation’s history. At any mall it
has become commonplace to see a diversity of cultures.
Merchants and customers represent ethnic cultures from
around the world as they buy and sell in the same
marketplace. The same diversity is found in many
workplaces.

Interestingly these cultures have different perspectives on
touching others.

In
Asia it is considered disrespectful to touch an older
person on the head, back, or shoulders. Even if the intent is
to show respect or to comfort the person the act of touching
these areas conveys insult.

When exchanging business cards, handling the card is
considered the same as touching the individual. Great care
should be given to the business card by grasping the card
with both hands, admiring it, and then placing it in your
pocket closest to your heart. Also remember it is extremely
rude to write on the business card, fold it, or to place it in
your back pocket.

In the
Middle East greeting people without touching can be
an insult. Men and women will great others with kisses on
each cheek. This is unlike Asia and the Pacific Rim where
kissing others is typically limited to kissing the hand of the
eldest person in a family – your family or one that is hosting
you for a visit.

In much of the Middle East It is rude to not hold the hand of a
friend of the same gender while walking down the street.
However, it is inappropriate, and could violate local law, to
publicly hold hands with a friend of the opposite gender –
even punishable by death in some nations.

Publicly touching in France is normal. It is normal to touch
while greeting someone, if you agree with them, or to make
a point. The touching is not violent of considered an invasion
of personal space as it is expected. In a study done by
Jourard (1966) in Paris recorded an average of 110 touches
by friends or parents in cafes as compared to 2 touches at
coffee shops in Miami. Interestingly observers found that
touching in Miami was more aggressive 37 percent of the
time. Italy and Greece had high rates of touching while
Australia, New Zealand, and England were more aligned
with the Miami touch rates. Additional studies in later years
found similar results.
Touching
How touching others is viewed around the world
Puerto Rico
An understanding
diversity video