How to be respectful to the Arab Culture

Difference in speech and culture bares no semblance to disgust or dislike

    As a culture, for Arabs a main goal, socially, is to express one's self with strength. Within the dealings between two people, neither wish to hurt the other, especially to have one feel less important or wise then the other. The host, or speaker, will avoid saying "No" or other phrases that use a directly negative connotation such as "No".

What's the difference in "No" culturally between Arabs and Westerners?

    Saying "No", while, in Western culture, is seen as a major stress reliever, is seen, by Arabs, as rude and of poor taste in a person's character. The direct use of "No" can be seen as a harsh way of turning down a proposal, when there are equally as effective ways to proceed with dealings. Western culture may view it as "beating around the bush" or avoiding to say the words that our associates do not want to hear.  Like Arabs we don't want to hear "No" though it is inevitable that we can't have everything.

    Arab culture is based highly on a person's character and moral fiber and so appreciate the importance of the words they choose to use with others. For example, you would not want to say "No" to your boss if you can at all costs avoid it. Working in this fashion may command a higher respect for others, and make it easier to do better and more efficient business.

    The Mayoclinic comments on how to commit to saying "No" and when it is appropriate and when it becomes a more reliable time to say "No". Tips include (but are not limited to): "Let go of guilt, Keep your commitments in check, and sleep on it."(www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress-relief/SR00039) All of these tips play a vital role in understanding why Arabs may avoid the use of such a negative word. Will this workout across cultures?

    While speaking on a typical business negotiation, Margaret Nydell speaks of how Arabs will treat promises on following through on an idea, and how they avoid saying no to an idea, but instead of saying "No" they give other ideas that could sway their decision-making more.

     "They may promise to be in touch but fail to do so, or they might offer a radical counter proposal that may constitute a position from which compromise is expected. Don't take flattery and praise too seriously. It will likely be adherence to good manners than an indicator of potential success in the business transaction...Do not expect to conclude all of your business at once, especially if several decisions are required." (Margaret Nydell Pages 58-59.)

    It would appear that through careful planning and negotiations, Arabs agree to business dealings in a very calm manner. They avoid financial ruin and other unforeseen consequences more easily, while at the same time, avoiding the stress of an immediate decision. This also builds friendships and partners in business, planting a future for successful dealings across companies and nations.

    I feel that a more specific understanding of how others base their values will help us culturally an individually. Though I've only recently learned the Arab's importance to speaking in specific ways, understand an can openly accept the need for careful use of words; it helps build better relations, and helps foreigners, who understand this concept, do business more easily an gain stronger friendships.
Works Cited:

Mayo Clinic Staff, "Learn how to say no." Stress 23 Jul 2008 6 Dec 2008 <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress-relief/SR00039>.

Nydell, Margarett. Understanding Arabs: A Guide for Modern Times. fourth. Boston: Nicolas Brealey Publishing, 2006.