Do's and Don'ts in Nigeria

Nigerian Etiquette Tips

Flying to Nigeria? You will find that Nigerians are warm, polite, and caring. As a guest to their country, you should practice the same courtesy and respect by learning a bit about their culture and etiquette. Below is a list of etiquette tips to take with you on your trip to Nigeria.

1. Dress Attire

  1. DON'T wear revealing clothes, if you are a woman.
  2. DO wear suits for business functions.
  3. DON'T wear shorts at business meetings or restaurants, unless at the beach or casual social gatherings.

2. Table Manners

  1. DO try eating with your hands! You'll be given finger bowls and towels. It's OK to ask for utensils if you're uncomfortable eating with your hands.
  2. DON'T use your left hand at all. Don't eat with it, pass food with it, or receive food with it.

3. Tipping

  1. DON'T feel obligated to leave tips. It's optional in Nigeria, but if you do want to leave a tip, 5% is fine.

4. Gift Giving and Accepting Gifts

  1. DO wrap presents. Any color wrapping paper is fine.
  2. DON'T give or receive gifts with the left hand.
  3. DO say that a gift came from a female relative, if you're a man giving a gift. Say it came from your wife, sister, mother, etc.
  4. DO bring gifts for children.
  5. DO bring gifts such as fruit, nuts, or chocolate if invited to a Nigerian's home for a meal.

5. Body Gestures

  1. DO be careful about eye contact. Constant and direct eye contact can be seeing as being intrusive.
  2. DON'T use your left hand to give or receive objects.

6. Greetings

  1. DO shake hands upon meeting someone and don't forget to smile! Sometimes men may place their hand on the other person's shoulder during a handshake.
  2. DO shake hands again upon departing.
  3. DON'T shake hands with a woman unless she initiates it.
  4. DO exchange hugs and kisses with people you know well.
  5. DO be aware that observant Muslims will not shake hands with the opposite sex.
  6. DO lower your eyes or bow when meeting an elder. This shows respect.
  7. DO inquire about the person's family and health when exchanging greetings.

7. Visitors Etiquette

  1. DO understand that in Muslim homes sometimes the male visitors and hosts will not eat with the women.
  2. DO compliment your host's home and belongings, but don't overdo it. If you do, your host might feel obligated to give you the belonging you're complimenting.
  3. DON'T linger after a meal is over. Leave about 30 minutes after.

8. Shopping

  1. DO haggle at a market. You can usually get the price down by 50%.
  2. DON'T try to bargain for bread. Bread prices are fixed.
  3. DON'T walk away without buying something after you've agreed on a price with the merchant. It's very rude.

9. Business Meeting

  1. DO schedule meetings three months in advance.
  2. DON'T be late, but don't be surprised if your host is late or even reschedules. It's not meant to be disrespectful; however, as a guest to Nigeria, you should be on time and keep all appointments.
  3. DO engage in small talk. Chat about sports, current events, or even politics. Don't discuss religious conflicts.
  4. DO bring a small gift that costs less than . Pens or little knickknacks are fine.
  5. DON'T use first names until invited to. Address people by their title and surname.
  6. DON'T give or receive business cards with your left hand.
  7. DO examine a business card that is given to you before putting it away.
  8. DO send an agenda in advance.
  9. DON'T try to make a deal that sounds too good to be true. It will likely also sound suspicious.

10. Socializing and Conversation

  1. DON'T use slang or profanity.
  2. DO note that people who live in the south of Nigeria speak louder and more directly.
  3. DO be aware that in the southwest of Nigeria, where the Yoruba tribe resides, they use a lot of proverbs and humor throughout conversation.
  4. DO understand that Nigerians communicate with a lot of gestures and body language, so you may have to pay attention to non-verbal cues when conversing.
  5. DON'T make generalizations about religion in Nigeria. Nigeria is a religiously diverse country, so it's important to understand that and maintain an open mind.

Even though the list of etiquette may seem very different than ours, you will quickly learn how accommodating Nigerians are to visitors. Follow their lead, be polite and conservative in your actions, and have a safe and happy trip to Nigeria.

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