What you can also say without words.
Today we are going to learn a little about Portuguese traditions.
This is particular important when you learn Portuguese because you may be able to learn what you can say with your body language and with your words when you speak to somebody else.
If you take into account some of these Portuguese traditions you'll be even better welcome to the Portuguese community.
Are you curious?
OK, here you go.
There are a few things we must do and don't do when we interact with the Portuguese. Some of these may apply to your culture too, as some are pretty much common sense, however remembering them, I guess, it won't do us any harm.
The whole amount of ways we behave shows the person we are, and it may determine the way we will expand our group of friends.
Please check this out to learn more about Portuguese traditions:
1. Every time you greet or meet somebody, show them a smile. It will show that you are a cheerful person and therefore, when people talk to you next, they know they will have a pleasant time.
2. If you are drinking something, do it without noise.For many Portuguese it's very rude to see somebody making noises sucking the drink from a glass or cup.
3. If you are eating something, do it with your mouth shut. It's very unpleasant for most Portuguese to see the food you are chewing in your mouth when you speak; not to mention the possibilities you have to spit food at your interlocutors when you are speaking to them.
4. When you are speaking you should not put objects in your mouth like a cigarette, a pencil or anything else, specially a tooth pick.
5. Start a conversation with somebody using the polite form (0 senhor / A senhora) especially when you are talking to someone older or more senior than you. This is very important under the Portuguese traditions.
6. Respect the degree of education people has. Remember that if you are talking to someone with a university degree you should address them by "Senhor doutor" ou "Senhora doutora"; "Senhor engenheiro" or "Senhora engenheira", "Senhor arquiteto" or "Senhora arquiteta", depending on the degree they have.
7. If you are not sure about the degree of education they have, the Portuguese traditions advice you to ask them by saying: Como devo tratar o senhor? / Como devo tratar a senhora? (How shall I treat you?)
8. We must also avoid talking to people when chewing gum. We can always hide it and talk as if we hadn't anything in our mouth.
9. If you are invited over to someone's house you mustn't take off your jacket unless the host suggests you to do so.
10. When coughing, sneezing or yawning please remember to put your hand in front of your mouth. Also when someone sneezes you should say to them "Santinho!" (to a man), and "Santinha!" (to a woman). "Santinho" means "little saint". So, when you say it, it's funny and very polite.
11. When you talk to people, you should look them in the eyes. Looking at the open space shows disrespect towards the other person under the "rules" of the Portuguese traditions.
12. If you go to a restaurant and if a waiter asks you if you want them to bring you the same drink again, don't say just "Obrigado" expecting him to understand it as a "YES". Actually if you just say "Obrigado" he will understand it as a "Não. Obrigado" (No Thanks.). I'm sure you don't want to be waiting for hours for a drink that will never come! You can say instead "Pode ser. Obrigado." or "Pode ser, se faz favor" and this means now "Yes, please".
13. If you whisper on somebody's ear, while you are interacting in a group, it will be seen as rude.
14. You are not supposed to share your domestic or financial problems with people. Even if you have them, you should hide them to yourself, or share them with someone who you are comfortable with. Expressions like, for instance, "Não tenho dinheiro para ir." (I don't have enough cash to go) should be avoid at all costs. The Portuguese normally come up with another excuse to justify the fact they can't go (somewhere) because they can't afford it.
15. Talking about yourself, if you picture a scenario like you are Superman, this is going to be seen as a lack of tact and as a lack of common sense.The same applies if you try to show you are better than anybody else, if you criticise other people's lives or if you try to correct other people's mistakes all the time. It will look silly, really from the Portuguese view.
16. If you drink with other people you should never show you are tipsy or worse. If you pretend you are stronger than alcohol, and if you behave with moderation (not screaming when you are talking, or falling down in the streets) you are indirectly showing that you know how to behave, you know the culture, and the Portuguese traditions. I understand it's quite difficult to remember this in such occasions... ;-)
17. The Portuguese down play their abilities. If you ask for instance if someone plays guitar and if that person says something like "Assim assim." (So so) or "Mais ou menos" (more or less), that means that person plays very well indeed. Not like a professional guitarist though, but still plays very well.
I have to confess you something here: When I came to the UK, for instance, and when people asked me about my abilities as a teacher, I used to make the mistake of saying "Well, so so!". I soon realised that, by saying that, English people would never understand my full capacities, and for a while I wondered what was wrong. I then discovered that what was wrong was me trying to bring the Portuguese tradition to an English speaking country by using the same rules. I was wrong and that's why I'm writing this page here today - to make you aware of the roll these subtle little things play when you speak and interact under the Portuguese traditions.
18. You should never interrupt others when they are speaking. This is pretty much a general rule for most cultures, but remembering it again, as I said before, won't do you any harm, as it's part of the Portuguese traditions.
19. When you talk to people you should not keep your hands in the pockets of your trousers. You should accompany your speech with your hands gesticulating harmoniously as you speak, to give emphasis to a certain subject or a particular word or expression.
20. Keeping control of the language is another important tradition. You'll be better off if you say little but with a point, than if you say much with no sense at all. Keep it short. Keep it clear. Keep it understandable.
21. Never miss an opportunity to compliment somebody. It's nice and, if you show you are really feeling what you are saying, you'll have a friend for life.
22. Show interest for others' work, family, and lives. Showing interest and sympathy for others builds rapport quickly.
23. Let your qualities, capacities and abilities speak for themselves, rather than saying you know this or that. People will notice how good you are quickly, don't worry.
24. Ignore any negative remarks someone might say about you.
25. At the restaurant or coffee shop you are not expected to leave a tip. However you should leave something to help the waiter make a bit more money, as their salaries are very low.
26. At the tables try to avoid putting your elbows on the table.
27. You mustn't ever take the food with your hands. Under the Portuguese traditions, you should use the fork and knife as much as you can, and when you have only one piece of cutlery to eat, your other hand must be on top of the table as well. Also when you have a sandwich, it doesn't show good manners if you take it with your hands. You must use a serviette to do so and never touch any food with your hands.
28. Gesticulating and pointing at things with cutlery in your hand must be definitely avoided as well.
29. On the phone, the tradition shows that you must always say "Com licença" before you put the phone down. This phrase means "With your permission" and it's, not only a "code" that tells the other person the phone call has finished, but it's also a traditional habit on the phone.
I also have to admit that when I came to London and started talking to people on the phone, this was quite shocking for me. Sometimes when I thought I was still talking to someone on the phone, they had already gone! - with no signals whatsoever telling me the conversation had ended!!! Once again I was bringing and forcing the Portuguese traditions into the UK.
30. If you are wearing a hat, you should take it off when you enter someone's house.
And that's it for today. I hope you have found this Portuguese traditions page interesting and that it helps you to show your Portuguese speaking friends that you know a bit about their Portuguese traditions.
I must confess that with this page I'm not trying to make a point nor to state that these Portuguese traditions are right or wrong (also because there are many Portuguese who don't respect them themselves at all). What I am trying to point out here is that if you have these Portuguese traditions into consideration, it will be even easier for you to make lots of (good) Portuguese friends.
Um abraço. x
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