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Going to Afghanistan for Work!

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It is extremely important to learn about the culture of the region you are working. Familiarity with local traditions could save you from personal embarrassments among locals and could prevent crisis in your workplace. It depends on how well you adopt the local customs in order to collect their love and endorsement.
If you are heading to Afghanistan for your work, I congratulate you on the opportunity to contribute to its reconstruction. And as a gift on your new job, here are some cultural tips for you. Hope it helps you. Be safe and enjoy your time among my lovely countrymen.

Greetings

If a manager walks into office he or she should acknowledge everyone in the room. Greet everyone with a handshake. In your office, in the US, you may walk into a room and go directly to the person you need to speak to, ignoring all others. However, in Afghanistan, everybody should be acknowledged. Also, It is impolite to walk up to a group of people and only speak to one person without paying attention to others.

Family

Since Afghans are extremely family centered it is good to talk to them about their families. For instance, ask employees if everyone is fine at their homes.

Humor

Afghans have a very good sense of humor and love to make jokes with colleagues. However, keep in mind that they do not like jokes involving their families, country, religion, and culture. Keep your jokes limited to the person you are talking to and do not make fun of their country, culture, religion and loved ones.

Social Gatherings

Afghans are extremely hospitable. It is considered disrespect to turn down their invitation. Afghans invite their colleagues for weddings, engagements, and other social gatherings, and they expect their superiors to be there. If you cannot make it there, congratulate him or her in the office and explain your excuse for not attending the happy gathering. Don’t ignore them, else they will deeply feel insulted. If your colleague’s relative dies, it is expected that you attend funeral or pay your condolences at your convenience later on. Remember that contrary to ‘happy gatherings’, generally Afghans do not invite people for funeral. Instead, they will announce the funeral time and date on television, radio and newspaper.

Religion

99% Afghans are Muslims, and in order to work effectively it is important to learn about their religion. Muslims pray five times a day and fast for a month-Ramadan, every year. They do not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset in mentioned month. And it is considered rude if you drink or eat in front of them while they are fasting.

Female Colleagues

Afghanistan is a male dominated country and there are very few female workers in offices.
Do not expect extra hours from female colleagues as they are also responsible in homes and would need to look after their children too. Thus, cannot stay longer in office. Even if there is a crisis in an organization, male workers will work instead of female workers and would let them leave early.
Afghan women wear scarves and their traditional clothes. Even though, few female Afghan workers have adapted Western culture and could be seen in western dresses (paint-shirt), you will see majority of women wearing scarves and Afghan dresses.
Most Afghan women prefer not to shake hands with men so be careful greeting women. Do not look in their eyes and keep a distance while talking to them. In meetings, ask their opinions if they do not speak themselves as many Afghans, especially women feel shy to express their views.

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