Etiquette and Customs in Jamaica
Traveling abroad is exciting, especially when visiting a new destination for the first time. However, before you leave for your trip, you should familiarize yourself with the local etiquette and customs. The following is a guide for travelers who are planning to visit Jamaica for business, study abroad, or for vacation.
It is common to give a firm handshake with direct eye contact and a warm smile. When greeting someone, you should give the appropriate salutation for the time of day such as “good morning” or “good afternoon.” Once a friendship is established, it is common for women to hug and kiss each other on the cheek. It is common for men to pat each other on the arm or shoulders during the greeting process. You should address someone by their title followed by their surname until a personal relationship is established.
Table manners are relatively informal in Jamaican culture. However, for formal occasions, Jamaicans follow a strict protocol. If you are not sure what to do during a meal, watch what others are doing at the table. You should not sit down until your host or hostess invites you to do so. Also, you should not start eating until your host or hostess invites you to do so. When you are not eating, it is acceptable to keep your hands in your lap. It is appropriate to use utensils when eating, and it is also polite to eat everything on your plate.
Networking and building relationships is crucial for business success. Jamaicans are warm and friendly, but may appear standoffish during the initial introduction until they get to know someone. You should avoid appearing overly familiar with individuals at the initial meeting. Meetings and appointments should be scheduled two weeks in advance especially when traveling abroad. In addition, make sure that appointments are confirmed by telephone a few days in advance before arrival. Jamaicans expect punctuality, but being on time for appointments may be challenging at times.
Business meetings are generally formal but have a friendly tone. Jamaicans are direct and will say what they mean. They appreciate brevity, and are not impressed by too many details. Bargaining is expected and customary in Jamaican culture. Therefore, you should not make your best offer at the beginning, and expect to review details before a contract or a final decision is made.