He walked into a Japanese company with a scheduled appointment with the executives. He was asked to remove his shoes despite the fact we are in the modern era, and the guest renounced the request. He was ‘given the pink slip,’ and denied the meeting. It’s embarrassing when no deference is displayed for somebody else’s customs and it irks more when you blow a million dollar deal out of arrogance and ignorance. Besides the narration of how this meeting with the Japanese company (Toyota) executives was denied. I am simply awe-struck and I deeply admire the culture embodied in the Japanese that they transpire in business and professionalism as well. This is a panorama of how fiddly International business can be if ill prepared for it.

According to Santiago (2014), while social media has become the dominant means to engage new business prospects around the world, nothing will ever beat the effectiveness of a face-to-face meeting to close an international business deal.

It is vital to learn the customs of host countries or foreign country men that you intend to do business in or with, rather than play to cultural faux pas.

A PowerPoint presentation on global business etiquette by Sarah H. et al, maintain that in some instances our practiced politeness that is customary to our home boundaries is just not enough when applying Global etiquette.

When talking about etiquette, I refer to it as a philosophical term is a code of behavior that marks out expectations for social behavior according to existing socially accepted norms within a group, society or a social class. It is an ethical and socially acceptable behavior regarding professional practice or action among the members of a profession in their dealings with each other. Just like tradition, etiquette isn’t distinguished as one uniform set of global standards around the globe and it has its significance.

The global reach of individuals and companies continues to expand, the critical element of a successful business outcome may be the appreciation and respect for cultural differences. It is demanding in today’s global era to exploit knowledge on cultural diversity and intercultural communication during your international travels and overseas assignments.

I will lay down a few examples

–          You are not expected to bring a gift to a business meeting in Denmark

–          Holding hands while walking is considered a popular gesture of friendship between men in Saudi Arabia.

–          No tip at all is the most appropriate tipping strategy when treating a client to a business meal in China.

–          In France it is important to apologize for your lack of knowledge of French if you don’t speak it.

–          French appreciate conversation as an art form, frequently interrupting each other is not considered rude but argument is considered entertaining.

–          Loosening of ties or taking off jackets is considered unprofessional.

–          French meals are to be enjoyed, not rushed through. Expect for a lunch or dinner to last anywhere from two to three hours

–          Gift giving as a business meeting is up to the foreigner’s discretion; however suggested gifts are books and music, as they demonstrate interest in intellectual pursuits.

In our own ordinary settings and how we have been nurtured, we subconsciously adhere to rules of etiquette. Some are unwritten such as giving up your seat for an elderly or a lady, queuing for a buffet, ‘Please’ or ‘thank you’ are daily words used effortlessly. Etiquette shows respect and deference to other cultures and social norms diverse from what you may be particularly used to maintaining good interpersonal relationships with one another.

Some argue that etiquette is about making sure when people mix and mingle together, there are rules of interaction in place that ensure their communication or transaction transpires smoothly. We all know how we feel when there is lack of display of etiquette by another party, we feel disrespected.

Consider The Complexities When Working On The International Stage.

Modern business is growing on a global scale demanding people and companies to mix from across diverse geographical and cultural backgrounds. Sometimes, not understanding the etiquette of another culture means you show a lack of manners and a lack of deference, leading to soured relationships, lost deals and in the end poor business results.

To make a good impression, understanding of business etiquette is crucial. International business etiquette manifests in many shapes and sizes in different cultures with varying etiquette rules around areas such as personal space, communication, gift giving, food business meetings and much more.  It is rewarding to learn the language of the people to whom you are doing business with. To communicate well with potential clients at the international scale, have a clear and accurate translation of all your business documents including business cards. This shows respect and care to your customers. It is also important that when conducting any business meeting be mindful to find out the language that your audience will be comfortable with; implying the services of an interpreter need to be put into play.

Common Areas Of Business Etiquette:

Business Card Etiquette

In some business cultures it’s not about simply passing the card over and forgetting about it. There are certain etiquette rules for example, in the Arab world; you don’t receive a business card with the left hand. In china and japan you receive and give a business card with both hands in addition to examining it and making a positive comment. In the UK it may be OK to sling the card into a pocket.in some but most countries it is such a thing treated with much more respect such as keeping it in a business card holder.

The Etiquette Of Personal Space

How close do you get to people? Is it impolite to touch somebody? In the Middle East you may get touchy with a man but not a woman. It is insulting to touch somebody’s head in India, Indonesia or Thailand.

Gift Giving

International business etiquette allows you an insight into what to buy, how to give a gift, how to receive, whether open in front of the giver or not and what gifts not to buy. In Chinese culture, clocks, straw sandals, a handkerchief, a stock or a crane are associated with death and should not be given as gifts.

Etiquette Of Communication

According to “Kwintessential” article on international Business Etiquette, some cultures like to talk loudly like the US and Germany, some softly (French, India and China), some speak directly (Holland and Denmark) others indirectly (UK and Japan), some tolerate interruptions (French and Brazil), others not like Canada. Some are blunt (Greece) some flowery (Middle East).  We all believe our tone of voice, our dialect is modest enough to pass for a foreign business meeting, and however, it is important to note that without the right international business etiquette, it is easy to offend.

A few tips on how to prevent you from entering in an embarrassing situation of cultural colossal blunders, these are:

–          Pre- meet: Research, learn key phrases, leave the attitude at the doorstep or back home, blend in.

–          On arrival: jet lag can ruin you’re your meeting so arrive early allowing your body to adjust, get plenty of rest with plenty of water, set your watch to destination time.

Etiquette helps maintain good relations with people. Those that lack etiquette are branded as uncouth and rude. However, this is not the same when working on the international stage. Someone may very well come across as being rude through a lack of etiquette but this may be because in their culture that behavior is normal. International business etiquette is a key skill for those wanting to be successful when working abroad. Through a great appreciation and understanding of others’ cultures you build stronger and longer lasting business relationships.