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Greetings and Etiquette



  • Shake hands and give a slight nod when meeting for the first time. Greet people with a slow and sincere “Selamat”, which means peace.
  • Do not put on public displays of affection. A man does not touch a woman in public except to shake hands.
  • Do not touch a person’s head as it is thought that this is where the spirit resides and is therefore considered sacred.
  • Personal space and privacy is not considered important. There is actually no word in the Indonesian language for ‘privacy’.
  • Curiosity is normal and Indonesians are comfortable asking personal questions.
  • It is common for people of the same gender to hold hands when walking together. This is merely a sign of friendship, not sexual preference.
  • Public displays of anger (shouting, hands on hips, rude looks, slamming of doors), are regarded as offensive.
  • The Indonesian way to deal with problems is behind closed doors, so that no one loses ‘face’.
  • Honour and respect for the individual is the basis of Indonesian culture.

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