Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Good Business Etiquette Part 2

International Etiquette

·    Always take the time to research cross-cultural etiquette when dealing with a foreign client or when conducting business in a foreign country. 
·    Awareness of international etiquette is important not just in face-to-face meetings but also in encounters such as sending gifts, conversing over the phone, or communicating online.


·     Religion
·     Dress Codes
·     Social Hierarchy
·     Rules on "Meet and Greets"
·     Use of titles and forms of address
·     Exchanging business cards
·     Physical space
·     Dealing with embarrassment

When uncertain, err on the side of what you presume is conservatism.  Be observant; check to see whether people are becoming uncomfortable.  Etiquette mishaps in international settings can range from merely embarrassing to potentially insulting to the other person. When you realize that you have committed a faux pas, apologize immediately and ask how you can make up for it.

Some cultures dress conservatively as the norm. Americans tend to be more relaxed when it comes to dress codes. People from other parts of the world are generally more conservative. The Japanese, for example, dress according to rank. Some Muslim nations find short dresses for women as offensive. If uncertain, err on the side of conservatism.

·    Some cultures meet and greet people with a kiss, a hug, or a bow instead of a handshake.
·    Stick to formal titles for business interactions unless invited otherwise. Approach first names with caution when dealing with people from other cultures.  Some cultures are very hierarchical and consider it disrespectful to be addressed without their title. Some cultures never accept first names in the business setting, and this should be respected.
·    Some cultures are less time-conscious than others. Don't take it personally if someone from a more relaxed culture keeps you waiting or spends more time than you normally would in meetings or over meals. Stick to the rules of punctuality, but be understanding when your contact from another country seems unconcerned.

·    Understand differences in perception of personal space.  Americans have a particular value for their own physical space and are uncomfortable when other people get in their realm. If the international visitor seems to want to be close, accept it. Backing away can send the wrong message.

Until next time...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

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