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Cultural Etiquette for Interacting with Traditional Hmong

The Hmong Cultural Center has created just a few tips to help you communicate with the Hmong in a way that is respectful:

  • The handshake may be a new concept to the traditional Hmong person. This fact is especially true for women. Persons greet each other verbally.
  • Most traditional Hmong families do not enjoy hearing direct comments about their children, especially infants and babies. They do not look favorably upon a comments such as “Your child is cute.” Many Hmong believe that a bad spirit might come and take the child’s soul away if the spirit hears such comments.
  • When talking to a Hmong person, he or she may not offer direct eye contact. Traditionally, looking directly into the face of a Hmong person or making direct eye contact is considered rude and inappropriate.
  • Hmong people tend to be humble and do not want to show or express their true emotions in front of other people. They will say “maybe” or “I will try” instead of giving a definite positive or negative reply.
  • When conversing with a Hmong family, one should always ask for the head of the household, which usually is the father.


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