For our final Infosheet-related blog we thought we’d take you on a journey around the world to explore some of the ‘quirkier’ business etiquettes.
As mentioned in Infosheets 5 and 6, Germans, similar to Americans (USA), Japanese and Brits, expect you to be punctual, whether for a job interview, business meeting or business dinner. If the meeting starts at 9am, it is expected to start exactly then, so you would be expected to arrive a few minutes earlier for a punctual start. However, in some parts of the world, such as the Middle East and Latin America, time is fluid and meetings may start well over an hour after its scheduled start time. Countries such as China and India are also known to be ‘flexible’ with their start times. What can you do? Show up on time, bring a book, and never look angry or frustrated!
When you greet a business partner in Germany or Australia you give them a firm handshake (without crushing their hand!), but this isn’t the norm everywhere. In countries such as France, Taiwan and Hong Kong it is customary to give a lighter handshake, rather than a firm one.
Fun fact: did you know that too much smiling is considered a sign of insincerity or falsity in Russia?
Most business meetings will have an agenda, but not all countries tend to strictly follow this agenda. In countries such as Germany, Australia, Sweden, Denmark and New Zealand it is customary to follow the agenda. However, if you find yourself in a country such as Israel, Spain, Brazil, Russia or Canada don’t be surprised if the agenda is only loosely adhered to.
When someone gives you their business card you just grab it, give them yours, and that’s it, right? No, not everywhere. Whilst this practice is fine in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and North and South America, you should accept a business card with both of your hands in most Asian countries, as the business card is viewed as an extension of one’s self. If you’re like us and like to write down where you met a person and the date on their business card, don’t ever do this in front of someone in (or from) Asia, as this is viewed as being extremely disrespectful and could severely damage your business relationships and reputation!
In Germany appropriate business gifts are generally small and not too expensive and should reflect one’s country. However, in some other countries there are other rules to consider. For example, whilst it is fine to present a German or American business partner a bottle of liquor, alcohol is strictly taboo in the Islamic Middle East and among Muslim hosts in Asia. Furthermore, whilst it is often common to present your host in Germany or Australia with your gift among arrival, it is presented at the end of the meeting in countries in the Middle East and Asia to ensure that they are not regarded as bribes.
Have a business meeting in another country or with a person from another country? Then it’s always best to research their business etiquette; don’t leave it up to chance or the last minute, otherwise your actions may be lost in translation and you could even end up offending your potential business partner!!
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