As business operations grow more global so does the need for awareness of international business customs. So we’ve put together this handy guide so that you can avoid these business etiquette blunders. Some are obvious, other a little more hidden.
When traveling to other countries for business, first impressions can play a huge role in future dealings, which is why research is key. Unlike when you’re a tourist, cultural mistakes are never accepted when made by business travelers. Knowing these customs are the small details that have a big impact and show you are interested in their culture and future business.
Business cards are always exchanged upon meeting and must be handed out with both hands as a sign of respect.
The sauna is a revered Finnish tradition. It is not unusual for business discussions to be held in a sauna or be a natural progression from a business lunch. Word of advice – all Finns sauna naked. You don’t have to but it is considered strange if you don’t.
It is rude to stand with your hands in your pocket when talking to someone.
Gift giving is a common part of Japanese business life but should not be confused with bribery. Gifts should be wrapped and presented to the most senior member, but avoid quantities of four and nine as they are unlucky numbers. Alcohol, such as whiskey is always an appreciated gift.
It is rude not to accept tea or coffee when it is offered even if you don’t drink it.
Business in France tends to be very formal and conservative. It is considered rude to ask about ones personal life and is kept separate from business relationships.
Never eat with your hands, even if it is a sandwich. Try and use a napkin or other utensils.
No laughing matter – humor is not appreciated in a business context in Germany.
Avoid using the word ‘no’ during a business discussion as it is considered rude. If the meeting is done during a meal, it is best not to order beef.