Norms in the US That You Will Find Offensive if You Visit Some Countries

Norms in the US

Customs and traditions vary across countries and cultures. There are some things that people in the United States find normal, but are frowned upon in other places. You need to know what they are before you decide to travel. You don’t want to be in trouble because you did what you weren’t supposed to.



In the US, tipping is part of the culture. Waiting staff don’t get sufficient pay and they rely on tips to make ends meet. In many countries, especially in Japan, tipping isn’t only discouraged; it’s offensive. It doesn’t matter if you felt good about the services received.

Thumbs up

When you put your thumps up, it’s a sign that you’re okay with something or you agree to it. It’s not the same in many countries. When you visit the Middle East or some parts of Africa, showing this symbol is like doing the middle finger. It’s terribly offensive and you could be in trouble for doing it.

Laughing with your mouth open

When you want to express joy, you can do it any way you want. If you wish to open your mouth wide, you can do so. However, in Japan, it’s offensive. Imagine having your soup with loud sounds. It’s how it seems to the Japanese. Conversely, eating soup with sounds is actually a sign that you appreciate the dish.

Being late or on time

In the US, you should always be on time. It’s a sign that you respect other people’s time. You can’t do it in some countries, especially when invited to a party. It might put immense pressure to the host. It’s also a sign of disrespect. The culture varies per country and you should know what the practices are before you go there.

Placing one hand in your pocket

It might be a habit to put your hand in the pocket, especially for men. You don’t find anything wrong about it. When you go to places like South Korea or Turkey, it’s deemed arrogant. You better keep your hands out of your pockets.

Using your left hand

Whether you eat, pay, or receive a gift, you should always use your right hand. Using your left hand is a taboo is most Middle Eastern countries. Of course, in the US, it doesn’t matter which hand you use.

Altering your meal

Be careful when using condiments in some countries like Japan or Italy. You should eat the dishes as they are presented. It’s deemed offensive to ask for salt or ketchup. Besides, the dishes are already well-seasoned and you will enjoy what is in front of you.

The point is that not everything that seems okay in the US is similar elsewhere. You should know these traditions before your trip. If unsure, you can always ask. You might also want to make friends with the locals. They won’t only tour you around the area. They will also help you get through the challenges of cultural differences.

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