With so many preferences and protocols to remember, it’s a miracle if you’ve left a meeting keeping one person happy – and that’s just in your office.
Good business etiquette can mean the difference between sealing a deal and flying home empty-handed. So, we’ve put together a few lesser known etiquette tips to remember when you’re abroad for work.
It is considered polite to let your affiliates leave the room first in China, entering and leaving rooms is believed to reflect your modesty and hierarchical position.
There is also no place for gift giving in a Chinese business setting. It is considered a method of bribery so be polite, but don’t be seen to be swaying or coercing.
While you may be keen to arrive at your meeting nice and early, punctuality is a little laxer in Brazil, with arriving 15-30 minutes late considered the norm. So be sure to arrive on time, but don’t be confused if you find yourself waiting a bit for affiliates to arrive.
You may also find people standing closer to you than you’re used to, or using more physical contact in conversation. Don’t be alarmed! This level of personal space is customary both in and out of the business setting.
Conversely, Indian people tend to keep larger space in between themselves and the person they are talking to and engage much less in physical contact.
The long-standing hierarchical culture in India has a bearing on its business context too. Be sure to greet the eldest or most senior person first to avoid any awkwardness.
Professionalism and hierarchy are held in the highest regard in Germany. Be ready for the oldest person to enter a room first and respect hierarchical structures.
While cracking a joke may break the ice in a meeting in the UK, there is no place for it in Germany. Business and pleasure are not to be mixed and humour is not considered appropriate in their business context.
There is a lot of power in a business card in Japan. Be sure to present your business card with both hands and never flick, pass or slide them.
When receiving a Japanese business card, keep it in good condition – never write notes on them or bend them. Only once business cards have been exchanged can business begin.
Getting the etiquette right is key to building a long lasting business relationship, as it not only builds respect, but demonstrates your values and willingness to your counterpart. While social media may be resulting in a more converged global culture, national traditions are still held in high regard, so be sure to read up on the etiquette of your destination before travelling.
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