Confusing personal traits of Vietnamese can be a very uncomfortable thing to deal with when you travel. Below are some tips to avoid this.

Looking Into Eyes

Vietnamese people have a habit of not looking into your eyes when they talk to you. This is often because of shyness. In fact, one of the main reasons is that traditionally they do not look into the eyes of those they respect or those higher in rank when talking to them. In reality, this is to indicate politeness.

If you are in cities, people are usually more open and they likely look into your eyes. But in the countryside, this is likely not very popular.

Confusing Personal Traits – Smiling

The smile of a Vietnamese can be very confusing in Vietnam to an outsider and cause misunderstandings. In some Oriental countries, a smile can mean sorrow, worry, or embarrassment. In Vietnam, it may indicate a polite, but the perhaps skeptical reaction to something, compliance or toleration of a blunder or misunderstanding. Moreover, on occasion represents submission to judgment that may be wrong or unfair. This is particularly true if the one making the judgment is at a superior level and perhaps lost his temper.

Offroad Vietnam Motorbike Adventures - Confusing Personal Traits of Vietnamese

For instance, a laundress may ruin a favourite shirt and her employer asked her about it. In this case, she may smile. This does not mean that she thinks it is funny that she burned the shirt, but instead is submission to the fact. If the owner of the shirt loses his temper, she may keep smiling indicating politeness or patience with superiors.

Because of this, foreigners should be very cautious in voicing their opinions. Perhaps you should be a little more delicate, more tolerant, and restrain from being obstinate.

Loud arguments or heated discussions are frowned upon and are seldom heard among the Vietnamese. Well-bred people are good at self-discipline. It is best, therefore, for Americans or other foreigners to do their best to keep tempers in check, no matter what the circumstances, lest they be looked upon with disdain.


Vietnamese seldom use a direct approach in their dealings. To do so indicates a lack of tact or delicacy. Directness is good in the Western world, but not in Vietnam. The Vietnamese do not like to say “no” and will often reply “yes” when the answer should be negative. This problem is further complicated by Americans posting negative questions such as, “It doesn’t look like it will rain today, does it?” The correct answer is often “Yes” by the Vietnamese. Westerners expect to hear “No”. Think it out and you will see that the Vietnamese are really correct.

Best advice, don’t ask negative questions.

Hopefully, you find this page useful to avoid confusing personal traits of Vietnamese.

Other Popular Customs, Traditions And Rites In Vietnamese Daily Life

Greeting People
Taboos in Personal Relationships
Superstitions, Very Popular In Vietnam & Asia
Hospitality, Different Way (Oriental)
Marriage, Wedding
Pregnancy And Birth

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