After reading 3 previous articles, now you already have an insight into Vietnamese communication style and their attitude towards foreign tourists like you. And what to do next? Use that to build up your first impression! Make it work!
Who are the locals that you might come into contact with?
They can be anyone: Your native tour guide, a passer-by enjoying their food right beside you or someone you encounter on the street. Talking with them might gain you a deeper understanding about this country beyond what is written in the travel guide or on the internet - their culture and other notable characteristics. Not to mention it can also gain you a new cross-culture friend as well as a chance to enrich your knowledge and widen your perspective. So if you want to take advantage of this chance, you should follow below tips to make it work on your first impression!
How to leave good impression on Vietnamese people?
If you want to leave a good impression on Vietnamese people, there are certain things that you should pay attention to:
1. Social etiquette
When you encounter a Vietnamese, before a proper greeting, the first impression you might leave on them is your appearance and behaviors. Therefore, it is advisable that you acknowledge cultural differences in social etiquette and follow below tips to earn favorable impressions of the Vietnamese.
• Wear decent and conservative clothing
• Express positive attitude
• Give or take things by your two hands.
• Show your respect to the old, children and the disabled people, especially on bus by offering your seat to them.
• Wear revealing clothes: this is considered inappropriate dress code, especially for women in Vietnam.
• Flaunt wealth in public as this is viewed as impolite
• Lose your temper in public: Expression of anger and aggression are viewed as a sign of weakness by Vietnamese standard.
• Show affection in public: While kissing or hugging your partner might be acceptable in big cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh city, it is social taboo elsewhere.
Wear decent clothes when visiting Vietnam
Now that you have a chance to approach the locals and say “hello” to them. There comes a question: “How to do it appropriately?” There are some do’s and do not’s you need to be aware of:
• Say “Hello” in Vietnamese – “Xin chao”: When greeting a Vietnamese, you should say "hello" in their language - "Xin chao". They will very much appreciate that because you are using their language to greet them. However, "xin chao" is just a general way to greet someone in Vietnam. If you are adapted to Vietnamese custom, you would be surprised to find out the appropriate way to say "hello" in their language. It is to add different pronouns to "Xin chao", which is illustrated more clearly in the table below.
• Smile broadly: Give Vietnamese people a broad smile and they will reciprocate with a broader one. Especially when you come from a total different culture - which might defer the locals from approaching you, a generous smile will diminish the differences and bring you guys closer.
• Pay respect if you are talking to the elders: If you are not accustomed to using the same way as the Vietnamese to address the elders, a slight bow might be fine for you.
• Be engaged in physical contact with the opposite sex: The personal distance at which Vietnamese people feel comfortable is much larger than in almost Western countries. As a result, they rarely touch the ones who are not close to them, especially those of opposite sex. When greeting, it is advisable that you shake hands with the locals to express your friendly attitude.
How to say Hello in Vietnam (source: colanguage.com)
3. Strike up a conversation
What to do next after a proper greeting? In your first meeting with the locals, you are just a stranger from a different culture to them. It might take a little time for them to warm up to you and vice versa. To keep the conversations going smoothly, here are some tips you can do to break the ice:
• Introduce about yourself: It is an essential part of the conversation among strangers, especially if you have an intention to get closer to someone. A brief introduction with information regarding your name, background and hobby will give a Vietnamese chance to know more about you.
• Seek a suitable topic to engage the Vietnamese in: Mentioning noteworthy characteristics of your country is a good topic to prolong the conversation. Both you and your Vietnamese partner might find it interesting to explore cultural differences between the two countries.
• Joke around: As Vietnamese people favor humor and storytelling, they would love to talk to someone with great sense of humor. Therefore, if you are good at telling jokes, you should take advantage of this strong point. However, you should pay attention to their reaction since humor sense differs from culture to culture. Remember to make explanation when needed.
• Boast about yourself: As mentioned in “How do Vietnamese people communicate with others? (1)”, Vietnamese people value modesty and self-restraint. Therefore, if you have a high self-esteem, you should avoid showing off during your conversations.
• Talk about politics or history: Be careful when broadening the subjects in your conversation with the Vietnamese. Politics and wars are sensitive topics that should be approached with tact, or else, they should be avoided
• Criticize or point out someone’s mistakes as this can cause to a Vietnamese to lose face.
Try holding a conversation with Vietnamese people
Creating a good impression is always essential wherever you go. Especially when you visit another country and have the chance to meet people from a total different culture, that fact is of greater importance. That is why you should have in hand basic knowledge about the social etiquette as well as some tips to greet Vietnamese people and to hold a conversation with them in an appropriate way - which has been provided by Nadova Tours via this article. Try applying these tips - saying hello or striking up a small talk with the locals you encounter on your long Vietnam customized holiday, you will find out how intriguing and refreshing it is!