Literal minefields aren’t the only places you should tread carefully.
Picture the scene: You’re in Thailand, about to purchase some delicious Pad Thai from a street food vender when a gust of wind blows the 100 baht note right out of your hand.
Seeing it being swept away along the street, you quickly extend a foot and stamp down on the note – saving it from being lost amongst the throng of locals meandering past.
You just messed up.
The soles of the feet in Thai culture – and, by extension, the soles of your shoe – are considered ‘unclean’, stemming from the Buddhist belief that the top of the head is sacred.
And that note you so unceremoniously stamped on just happens to depict the Thai king – a figure of profound veneration for the Thai people.
By placing your foot on the image, you just stepped on a cultural land mine, enough to earn the admonishment of even the famously easy-going Thais.
It is cultural faux pas like these that Tangiers International needs to be acutely aware of when facilitating medical treatment, arranging evacuation and handling claims around the world.
Tangiers operates in some of the most dangerous or remote regions on Earth, earning the trust of community leaders, tribespeople, local doctors, bureaucrats and members of the armed forces in order to get things done.
In order to do that, it needs a profound understanding of the cultural idiosyncrasies which exist – the etiquette, taboos, expectations and norms of behaviour – for people in countries everywhere from Albania to Afghanistan.
These rules of social etiquette can be a tricky path to navigate for the unsuspecting traveller.
When meeting a government official, which title should you address them with? Should you shake hands with them before anyone else in the room? Should you always accept the offer of a tea or coffee? Should you sit a certain way or exhibit any other respectful body language?
Seemingly insignificant slights can easily derail negotiations and cause unnecessary obstacles to reaching agreement on a range of issues. When a patient’s health is on the line, these obstacles can make the difference between securing a travel visa immediately and being put at the back of the line.
Thankfully, Tangiers doesn’t rely on the culturally clueless. By using its extensive network of local field agents, the company is able to circumvent the cultural mishaps which can dog foreign visitors to a country.
These agents, situated in more than 100 locations across the globe and adept in many more languages, mean that negotiations with local officials, medical staff and more are handled with as much cultural sensitivity as they are efficiency.
Whether they are located in Iraq, Sudan or Nepal, these agents are equipped to reach the right people in the right way, meaning that trust is gained and crucial permissions granted to enable medical case management to move forward.
So when time is of the essence, Tangiers is able to get things done. And any cultural land mines are expertly defused.