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School of Continuing Studies | University of Toronto

Impressions

  • Canadians are often thought to be polite, but they are very direct when they speak.  Honesty and openness are considered important.
  • Canadians are often uncomfortable with silence. People will ask questions or start a conversation if no one else is talking.
  • Canadians can be very friendly. They will often start a conversation with a stranger even without a formal introduction.
  • When Canadians are talking to each other, they will usually leave a space of one metre between them.
  • Canadians sometimes use gestures and eye contact to communicate. When someone moves his or her head up and down, it’s a way of saying “yes.” Moving the head from side to side usually means “no.” When people cannot understand something, they will often frown.
  • People may feel uncomfortable if you point directly at them.
  • In Canada, people don’t giggle or smile if they are confused or embarrassed. They giggle or smile to show they are happy or amused.
  • In their free time, Canadians dress in informal clothes. In business, however, men and women wear suits, or pants, shirts, blouses and ties as professional attire.
  • It is considered polite to give a small gift to someone who offers you hospitality. You might give a gift to your host family, or to a Canadian friend who invites you for a meal. Candies, chocolates or souvenirs from your country are suitable gifts.
  • Smoking is not permitted in public spaces or in Canadian workplaces. You should ask permission before smoking in a person’s home.