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Living in CanadaDo's and Don’ts

Do’s and Don’ts


  • Business or pleasure, a handshake is the first thing that introduces you to the other party. It’s common to wait for the woman to offer her hand first.
  • In Canada you can immediately move to a first-name basis, however it’s recommendable to wait for your Canadian acquaintances to make the first move.
  • Among French Canadians, use courtesy titles such as “Monsieur” or “Madame”, followed by the last name.
  • Around women, avoid discerning them by the marital status it old and no longer considered respectful. Greet every woman with Ms. unless they tell you not to.
  • When on a telephone conversation it is common to use first names, however one shall be more careful around French Canadians as they will use their last name and acquire of you to do so.

Dressing up

  • As long as you are comfortable in your skin, everything is acceptable.
  • In the business culture, a more conservative and discrete way of dressing up is advisable.
  • Sometimes, professionals are also allowed casual dressing, during the whole week or on Fridays most commonly. If you have doubt, formal dressing will never let you down for a first impression.
  • Suits and ties are the standard attire for men.
  • Business suits or dresses are often the standard attire for women.
  • During wintertime, it’s essential to be covered in warm clothes and layers as well as possess boots that will make you comfortable walking through the ice, snow, and slush you are likely to encounter on the pavement.
  • Leisure time is all about jeans, t-shirts and sneakers.
  • When at a business meeting avoid intense fragrances such as perfume, aftershave or heavy scented body lotions. It is still assumed as it seems, for perfume to be worn to cover up poor personal hygiene. Also it may trigger an attack in an asthmatic person so it might be forbidden to be worn in a hospital.


  • Small talk is a trigger for a deeper conversation, and one can always start with the weather.
  • Business people are rather keen on golf, and many business discussions take place on a golf court.
  • Topics that will ignite a conversation with a Canadian
  • Putting on a good word for the country or the countrymen
  • Sport talk- hockey, football, baseball, basketball, golf, and tennis
  • Business
  • Weather
  • Geography
  • Travel
  • Movies
  • Books

Topics to Avoid when talking to a Canadian

  • Comparing Canada to the US and vice versa.
  • Conflicts between French and English Canada
  • Religion

When in public, you are supposed to…

  • Maintain eye contact during a conversation to show interest and honesty.
  • Remain 2 feet away from the person you are speaking to. French Canadians however tend to come closer as they speak.
  • As Canada is considered to be over tolerant, socially it is rude and unacceptable to shout or talk loudly.
  • Canadians are not really keen on showing emotion in public, therefore creating a scene for better or for worse is considered inappropriate.
  • It is considered rude for people to speak in a foreign language in the presence of others who do not understand what is being said.
  • Waving is very popular among Canadian acquaintances as a form of greeting.
  • Friends of the same sex do not hold hands in public. It is a symbol of being gay.
  • Pointing is never such a good idea in public. It might be considered as an offence.
  • As everywhere else “O.K.” sign and “thumbs up” sign are gestures that signalize approval.
  • Restaurants in Canada often have smoking and non-smoking sections. Smoking is restricted in most of the public places.
  • When sitting, it is common to put the ankle of one leg over the knee and resting their feet on chairs or desks. It is considered relaxing and casual.

Gift giving

  • After closing a deal at the workplace, usually you are given a gift. Gifts are commonly given as a warm welcome.
  • Commonly everyone unwraps the gifts to share the insides with the colleagues due to transparency.
  • Gifts should be carefully selected, preferably something genuine from your home country.
  • A bottle of wine or some fine liquor is always presentable.
  • Buying someone dinner is also considered a gift.
  • White lilies are sometimes associated with funerals, while red roses are reserved for romantic occasions. So be careful while choosing flowers.
  • Personal items such as clothes and perfume are considered to intimate to be presentable as a gift.

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