Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views :

International Business Etiquette: A Country by Country Guide

309 Views
You will never do everything perfectly when it comes to cross cultural matters, says Orla Brosnan of Etiquette School of Ireland, it’s just important to show respect and demonstrate that you’ve made a special effort.
In the last in our series on business etiquette, we look at country specific cultural differences, and how to navigate them.
(*NB: Never give a Chinese client a gift of a clock).

 

Brazil

Though meetings often run late, never leave early. It is considered rude to exit before the gathering ends.

Be aware of big, popular celebrations, such as Carnival, during which almost everything shuts down. Brazilians are social and passionate about these events, and prioritize them over doing business.

Brazilians stand very close and use physical contact during conversations. In Brazil, closeness inspires trust, and trust inspires long-term relationships.

Canada

Be on time. Canadians tend to be extremely punctual and meetings are well-organized and adhere to time schedules.

There are fewer class extremes within Canada. Whereas the U.S. has a shrinking middle class, most Canadians fall into the country’s large middle class.

Though the government funds more social programs than the U.S., such as healthcare, both business and government rely on a financially conservative approach.

 

The Chinese will decline a gift three times before finally accepting, so as not to appear greedy. You will have to continue to insist.

China

Give yourself a Chinese name if you’re an expat conducting long-term business. It’s considered a sign of respect and commitment.

Bring a small gift from your hometown or country to business meetings. Chinese business people appreciate presents. One gift to avoid: clocks, as they represent death. Also, do not use white, black or blue wrapping paper.

The Chinese will decline a gift three times before finally accepting, so as not to appear greedy. You will have to continue to insist. Once the gift is accepted, express gratitude. You will be expected to go through the same routine if you are offered a gift.

Business meetings are very formal events and dinner meetings can feature many rounds of toasts; be sure to pace yourself so you don’t overindulge.

Germany

A no-nonsense culture, Germans are hard-working and business events are very structured, serious engagements.

Germans are passionate about vehicles. In many cases, compensation packages will include a car, and the type of car is almost as important as how much one makes.

 

Don’t order beef if attending a business meal in India. Cows are considered sacred in Indian culture.

India

Don’t be surprised if other guests arrive a few minutes late to business events, unless it’s an official function. But don’t risk arriving late yourself; you won’t insult anyone by showing up on time.

Indians are very polite. Avoid use of the word “no” during business discussions; it’s considered rude. Opt for terms such as “we’ll see,” “I will try,” or “possibly.”

Don’t order beef if attending a business meal in India. Cows are considered sacred in Indian culture.

Traditional Indian food is eaten with the hands. When it is necessary to use your hands, use only your right hand, as the left hand is considered unclean.

Drinking alcohol is prohibited among Muslims, Sikhs and other some Indian communities.

 

Japan

Do not treat Asians as all alike. There are billions of people with different histories, religions and cultural backgrounds. Some regions have longer experiences than others of international trading and commerce.

Japanese culture is very welcoming and formal. Expect each of your counterparts to bow during an introduction. Wait for them to initiate a handshake because it is less common, and sometimes avoided, in business.

The exchange of business cards is a very formal act that kicks off meetings. Present your card with two hands while facing your colleague. Do not conduct a brief exchange or slide your card across the table.

In general, Japanese business people do not like to be rushed to make a decision. Because of the culture of consensus, there isn’t one key decision maker in a firm so it needs more time to build a consensus.

During meetings, the most senior person will lead discussions and members of his or her party may not say a word. Follow this lead and have the most senior member of your team participate in discussions.

When entering a meeting, you should sit across from your counterpart with a similar level of experience. Your junior staffers should not sit across from senior team members.

 

In the Arab world, shaking hands is mandatory in a business setting; but touching women in traditional, western dress is forbidden

 

And finally, some general points to note:

Gender roles


Gender etiquette plays a significant role not only in business, but overall in foreign travel. In some countries, where gender is rooted in the tenets of a particular religion, faux pas are often considered unforgivable.

For example, in the Arab world, shaking hands is mandatory in a business setting; but touching women in traditional, western dress is forbidden. In India, men and women shouldn’t make physical contact in public other than handshaking. In Japan, older generations may not be comfortable shaking hands with Westerners and it’s important that you don’t get too close to them. In Argentina, women should initiate handshakes with men.

Talking business

If you’re on business in Germany, leave the trade talk at the boardroom door. Business matters are usually discussed before or after the meal; never during.

Conversely, in China, it’s OK to discuss business as long as it’s not the main topic of conversation. Personal exchanges about children, spouses or other personal information are encouraged and welcomed.

 

In Russia, you are expected to drink to establish closer relationships.

 

Business cards


The business card exchange is extremely important in Japan – almost ceremonial. Always give business cards with two hands and make a point to admire and examine the card. The more time you spend looking at it indicates the more respect you have for the person.

In Italy, do not exchange business cards at social occasions; it is the norm at business functions and meetings only.

 

Alcohol at meals


In Australia, alcohol is discouraged at business luncheons. Drinking moderately at business meals is acceptable in Germany; in Russia, you are expected to drink to establish closer relationships – though again, in moderation.

In France, avoid drinking hard liquor before meals or smoking cigars between courses – the French feel it compromises the taste of the meal.

 

Gifts


A standard to keep in mind for any gift you select is quality. If you give gifts with your company logo, it’s better if the logo is discreet. Never give company logo gifts in Greece, Spain or Portugal. In general, be safe rather sorry and choose non-logo gifts.

In China, it’s considered rude to open a gift in front of the person who gave it. In Africa, gifts are opened immediately upon receipt.

 

For more business etiquette tips from Orla, check out her ultimate guide to dining and conference call etiquette: 

Dining Etiquette for Business

Conference Call and Skype Etiquette for Business

 

About the Author

Orla Brossant Etiquette School of Ireland

Orla Brosnan is Founder and Director of Etiquette School of Ireland, a modern consultancy that runs courses in Communications, Presentation skills, Business & Social Media Protocol, International Customs and Dining Etiquette. Catering for Irish and international clients, our consultants are experts in what constitutes good Etiquette in today’s world.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • stumbleupon

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *