Find out about what to expect from Azeri local men and women and what you can do to ensure that they feel comfortable with you.
18 November 2013| Last updated on 27 June 2017
Azeri people are warm and friendly, especially when among friends. The men will greet each other with a handshake and a booming smile, while women tend to greet each other with a kiss on one cheek. If the women are not familiar with each other the first greeting will often involve a handshake. Men should not extend their hand to a woman, the woman will extend her hand first to greet, however if she is quite religious this will not be the case.
It is considered polite in the Azeri culture to always ask about the health of the person with whom you are speaking and to ask after his/her family and business before getting into any kind of conversation.
The word used when greeting one another is “salaam” which translates to “hello” and it is polite to say this at the beginning of the conversation. It is also the norm to use the person’s first name when speaking to them.
If you are invited to an Azeri home for dinner or a celebration it is considered polite to take a gift with you as a small token of appreciation for the hospitality. Just remember not to take alcohol unless you are certain that the family imbibes. If you are giving flowers ensure that you take an odd number, as even numbers are usually for funerals. Similarly if an Azeri gives you a gift it is polite to refuse it at least twice before accepting it. This is just a custom of the people and your partaking in this custom will be noticed.
When you come to an Azeri home it is customary to remove your shoes at the entrance. The Azeris often have slippers at the door for guests as walking barefoot is not customary in Azerbaijan. Being fashionably late to dinner is generally okay, however dining is quite a formal affair. You should be dressed in smart causal attire and wait to be invited to sit at the table. It is important to remember to use your right hand to eat and to pass condiments over.
This is just a customs guideline to read over. The best way to learn about the etiquette is to watch and learn from the Azeri people.