Master Business Etiquette Anywhere in the World

August 12, 2019
When business travel takes you across the world, you will need to be prepared to deal with different people, customs and rules. Learning about the culture before arrival will help you make the most of your trip and avoid embarrassing faux pas.

Here are five common things to consider to when traveling internationally:

1.     Attire: The ‘business casual attire’ approach so omnipresent in the U.S. may set you off on the wrong foot in other countries. Dressing conservatively, in a dark business suit for both men and women, is expected in many European and Asian countries, like the U.K. and Japan. Showing too much skin is also frowned upon in a professional context in Japan and Middle Eastern countries, so always travel with a jacket and close-toed shoes for business meetings.

2.     Introductions/Greetings: A handshake is a warm greeting in many Western countries, but the gesture doesn’t necessarily translate to all cultures. In Japan and India, for example, bowing is a typical way of greeting each other. Rank and order is also important in many cultures – in Japan, this requires greeting senior-ranking people before younger people and allowing them to enter and exit the room first.

3.     Body Language: Body language is another important consideration. Direct eye contact should be avoided in Asia; in the Middle East, use an open palm to gesture rather than pointing with your index finger and be careful not to sit cross-legged – the bottom of your foot is regarded as the lowest part of your body and showing it is considered disrespectful. Having a working understanding of body language cues like these in business meetings will show a level of knowledge and respect.

4.     Gifting: Providing a gift for the person you are conducting business with is considered a sign of respect and gratitude in many countries. Remember to pack a small token from home, and be sure to understand gift giving etiquette before arriving. Business gifts are common in China and it’s important to present it to the receiver with both hands. On the other hand, in France, business gifts are not usually exchanged at the first meeting and in Italy, they are only exchanged after a relationship has been established as a sign of friendship.

5.     Punctuality: Be patient and prepared to start your meeting with a slight delay when working with partners in places such as Italy, Ireland and France, so don’t take a delay as a sign of disrespect. On the other hand, Germans like to stay on schedule and appreciate on-time counterparts, so be punctual!

With business borders constantly expanding, understanding your destination’s cultural differences is not only good manners, it’s good business. We hope this breakdown will help you best prepare for your next meeting abroad!

The Latest

Check out the most recent posts

The Best Multitasking Paper for the Whole Family

The Best Multitasking Paper for the Whole Family

More than ever, the home has become the center of daily life, serving as the office, school, daycare, restaurant, and more. Even as the world gets back to “normal” with in-person activities starting up again, working and learning from home – at least part of the time – will likely be the “new normal” moving forward.

The “New” Office Life: One Year Later

The “New” Office Life: One Year Later

When COVID-19 disrupted the world in March 2020, everyone was forced to alter their typical routines. What initially started as a two-week lockdown turned into our “new normal;” and even when the world gets back to business post-COVID, many changes to how we work are expected to last.