When you have international business partners, it’s essential to know about the different business practices their culture dictates. Whether you’re flying out to meet those in other countries or going to work there for some time, it’s etiquette to know of and adapt to their business culture as much as possible.
Some practices might not be possible to follow, being too far removed and irreconcilable with your own. However, the following examples would be practical for most people visiting in the following countries. This will give you a good idea of the types of things to consider when doing business in other countries.
If you’re flying to any European country, the practices in different countries would probably be similar. However, some business cultures might be quite varied.
For example, be careful not to pitch any changes in the plan right away when you’re in Germany. The German business culture doesn’t look too kindly upon this. When you’re in Denmark, your negotiations and contribution to teamwork is what most business partners are looking for.
If you’re going to France for business purposes, brush up on your French beforehand. It’s an inseparable part of the French identity, so they’d really appreciate you making this effort. In the Czech Republic, you don’t want to schedule any business on Friday afternoons or the whole month of August. This is when people take off, leave town, or simply have their business closed for the month.
The United States of America
Here, you’d find that the business culture is very open and friendly. Most people might introduce themselves instead of waiting around, so you can do the same. An informal way of dealing is usually considered best here. You may also start talking to the person next to you or a group of strangers without knowing anyone beforehand.
The general rules to remember in America include standing when being introduced. Keep your handshake firm and maintain eye contact. Avoiding getting someone’s eyes is usually considered a sign of dishonesty or guilt.
If you’re going to China to conduct some business deals, it’s a good idea to take some gifts along. This culture uses gift-giving as a way to impress, and the acceptance is also something you need to know. For instance, Chinese culture dictates that you should decline any gift or offering at least three times before accepting the fourth time. You hence have to be a bit persistent here.
The issue of eating in India might be a huge deal if you’re at a business dinner. For instance, ordering beef is probably impossible there as well as illegal, so don’t think about hamburgers or steaks. Cows are considered sacred in that country, so this act could offend most of the people there on a religious basis.
If you use any cow leather goods, considering bringing along synthetic replacements or just don’t mention that fact. This includes any leather jackets, belts, shoes, or cases.
There are many flourishing businesses in Africa along with a lot of untapped potential. If you’re planning to branch out at an international level, a business trip to Africa might easily be in your future. While you’re there, be sure to follow the business etiquette, otherwise, you might risk offending someone and losing out on valuable deals.
First, make sure to start shaking hands from your right when you go to a social function. When you leave, say goodbye to everyone individually.
If you’re in an African country that was previously colonized by the British, European etiquette is usually acceptable. You can mimic your Dutch manners in some parts and the English one in others such as Nigeria.
In general, keep your handshakes on the soft side. Firm handshakes might be appreciated in America, but
Soft handshakes are common across Africa. In countries like Kenya and South Africa, with postcolonial populations, you will see European-style handshakes. In Muslim countries, such as Morocco, men may hold handshakes so long that they become handholds.
Your business card might be an unimportant piece of cardboard in some places, but it’s very important in Japan. Here, you’d be given a business card by just about every business person you meet. If you’re meeting any Japanese businessmen, make sure you take a lot of your own cards along. It might also be a wise step to have a fresh batch printed in both Japanese and English or whatever your own country’s language is.
Traditionally, the business card is to be handed over using both hands. Make sure the Japanese side is facing upwards to show your respect. If you’re on the receiving end, take the card using both hands again, and thank them in the process.
You should also ensure that your cards are in pristine condition. Anything folded, creased, or with doodles would be a disrespectful aspect of your dealings.
United Arab Emirates
The Arab culture is quite different from other countries, so you may have some difficulty here. For instance, they consider that the left hand is somewhat unclean and shouldn’t be used unless it’s for washing purposes. Hence, you should avoid eating shaking hands, and even passing documents and other objects with your left hand. Focus on using the right hand when in public so that you don’t end up insulting any Arab businessmen.
When you go to greet or say goodbye to anyone in Belgium, make sure you have ample time to do so. For instance, even business professionals here establish their relationship with a triple air kiss. The order of the kisses is also important. You begin with the right cheek, then air kiss twice on the left. Omitting the kisses or messing up the order might be a disrespectful action that could sour your business dealings.
The United Kingdom
When you’re dealing with Britishers in business circles, keep in mind their love for discreetness. When they want to discuss something in confidence, they would tap their nose. This underlines the importance of what they’re saying, so pay attention. This is also a sign that you’re not to share the conversation with anyone else.
Things are again quite different in Russia, with your patience being tested time and again. It’s considered part of the business dealings to provoke a business partner and see how much they can take. Hence, you’ll be expected to arrive for a business meeting exactly on time, but the Russian party could arrive whenever they want. There’ll be no apology here, and you shouldn’t expect any either. It’s not personal; that’s just the way they conduct business.
There are several business customs that the average business person should know about, especially if he’s traveling the world for certain dealings. Doing a bit of research before you get on the plane can go a long way in making sure your deals go well. While the more traditional kinds of business practices are being phased out with time and globalization, others are still very much in place.
Above all, make sure you stay polite and courteous, letting your host take the lead in such customs. Some of these might be a power play, which is all the more reason for reading up beforehand. Others are just ways to ensure that you get the best deal and secure your future with your business counterparts in different countries.