Drug testing

Minding Your Global Manners

To say that today's business environment is becoming increasingly more global is to state the obvious. Meetings, phone calls and conferences are held all over the world and attendees can come from any point on the globe. On any given business day you can find yourself dealing face-to-face, over the phone, by e-mail and, on rare occasions, by postal letter with people whose customs and cultures differ your own. You may never have to leave home to interact on an international level.

While the old adage "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" still holds true, business clients and colleagues who are visiting this country should be treated with sensitivity and with an awareness of their unique culture. Not to do your homework and put your best international foot forward can cost you relationships and future business. One small misstep such as using first names inappropriately, not observing the rules of timing or sending the wrong color flower in the welcome bouquet can be costly.

There is no one set of rules that applies to all international visitors so do the research for each country that your clients represent. That may sound like a daunting task, but taken in small steps, it is manageable and the rewards are worth the effort. Keeping in mind that there are as many ways to do business as there are countries to do business with, here are a few tips for minding your global P's and Q's.

Building relationships: Few other people are as eager to get down to business as we Americans. So take time to get to know your international clients and build rapport before you rush to the bottom line. Business relationships are built on trust that is developed over time, especially with people from Asia and Latin America.

Dressing conservatively: Americans like to dress for fashion and comfort, but people from other parts of the world are generally more conservative. Your choice of business attire is a signal of your respect for the other person or organization. Leave your trendy clothes in the closet on the days that you meet with your foreign guests.

Observe the hierarchy: It is not always a simple matter to know who is the highest-ranking member when you are dealing with a group. To avoid embarrassment, err on the side of age and masculine gender, only if you are unable to discover the protocol with research. If you are interacting with the Japanese, it is important to understand that they make decisions by consensus, starting with the younger members of the group. By contrast, Latin people have a clear hierarchy that defers to age.

Understanding the handshake: With a few exceptions, business people around the world use the handshake for meeting and greeting. However, the American style handshake with a firm grip, two quick pumps, eye contact and a smile is not universal. Variations in handshakes are based on cultural differences, not on personality or values. The Japanese give a light handshake. Germans offer a firm shake with one pump, and the French grip is light with a quick pump. Middle Eastern people will continue shaking your hand throughout the greeting. Don't be surprised if you are occasionally met with a kiss, a hug, or a bow somewhere along the way.

Using titles and correct forms of address: We are very informal in the United States and are quick to call people by their first name. Approach first names with caution when dealing with people from other cultures. Use titles and last names until you have been invited to use the person's first name. In some cases, this may never occur. Use of first names is reserved for family and close friends in some cultures.

Titles are given more significance around the world than in the United States and are another important aspect of addressing business people. Earned academic degrees are acknowledged. For example, a German engineer is addressed as "Herr Ingenieur" and a professor as "Herr Professor". Listen carefully when you are introduced to someone and pay attention to business cards when you receive them.

Exchanging business cards: The key to giving out business cards in any culture is to show respect for the other person. Present your card so that the other person does not have to turn it over to read your information. Use both hands to present your card to visitors from Japan, China, Singapore, or Hong Kong. When you receive someone else's business card, always look at it and acknowledge it. When you put it away, place it carefully in your card case or with your business documents. Sticking it haphazardly in your pocket is demeaning to the giver. In most cases, wait until you have been introduced to give someone your card.

Valuing time. Not everyone in the world is as time conscious as Americans. Don't take it personally if someone from a more relaxed culture keeps you waiting or spends more of that commodity than you normally would in meetings or over meals. Stick to the rules of punctuality, but be understanding when your contact from another country seems unconcerned.

Honoring space issues: Americans have a particular value for their own physical space and are uncomfortable when other people get in their realm. If the international visitor seems to want to be close, accept it. Backing away can send the wrong message. So can touching. You shouldn't risk violating someone else's space by touching them in any way other than with a handshake.

Whether the world comes to you or you go out to it, the greatest compliment you can pay your international clients is to learn about their country and their customs. Understand differences in behavior and honor them with your actions. Don't take offense when visitors behave according to their norms. People from other cultures will appreciate your efforts to accommodate them and you will find yourself building your international clientele.

(c)2005, Lydia Ramsey. All rights in all media reserved. Reprint rights granted so long as the article and by-line are reproduced intact and all links are made live.

Lydia Ramsey is a business etiquette expert, professional speaker, corporate trainer and author of MANNERS THAT SELL - ADDING THE POLISH THAT BUILDS PROFITS. She has been quoted or featured in The New York Times, Investors' Business Daily, Entrepreneur, Inc., Real Simple and Woman's Day. For more information about her programs, products and services, e-mail her at lydia@mannersthatsell.com or visit her web site http://www.mannersthatsell.com.

limousine chicago service
In The News:

Selling Truth as a Differentiator

The last few years have been a period of heightened... Read More

Enron?s Ultimate Victim: Ethics

FROM the 'MORAL HIGH GROUND', where we imagine ourselves, the... Read More

Business Ethics: An Oxymoron

An oxymoron: the juxtaposition of contradictory words or concepts. That... Read More

No Credit is Due: Bad Telemarketing

Just a few minutes ago I was debating what to... Read More

The Social Implications of Computing

Directed by Mark Harrison, "Visions of Heaven and Hell" is... Read More

Six Reasons to Give

If you run a business, you undoubtedly feel many pressures... Read More

Vice of Buggery at FTC

At the Federal Trade Commission we have seen attorneys who... Read More

Financial Projections in Business Plans

One of the most difficult sections to write in a... Read More

Dont Hate Them Because Theyre Beautiful

Tonight I'm going out with two extremely impressive ladies who... Read More

The Three Schools of Business Ethics

G. Richard Shell, author of Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies... Read More

Ethics in Business...A Lost Art

While watching Face the Nation one Sunday earlier this year,... Read More

Minding Your Global Manners

To say that today's business environment is becoming increasingly more... Read More

Business Ethics: How The Sales Function Can Transmit Company Values

I recently got a "thank-you" call from a man who... Read More

Brain Development and Due Process

DUE PROCESSAfricans, especially Nigerians are stereotyped on the internet and... Read More

Work Ethics ? A Paradigm Shift

Work ethics is a hot topic in today's business and... Read More

How To Build A Business Ethics Program

Recent corporate financial scandals have highlighted the importance of business... Read More

Laws and Ethics?. Who?s Kidding Who?

Years ago I read an article by a renowned psychologist... Read More

Top 10 Principles for Positive Business Ethics

This morning, I read about a company using on-line auctions... Read More

Better Business Boundaries

To get a new client, we might be inclined to... Read More

Diversity

I know that diversity has been a big topic of... Read More

Is Good Neighborliness Good Business?

[Note: This story is not a criticism of Buddhism. It... Read More

Are You Selling Out Your Integrity?

Integrity in business is a quality that is highly under-rated... Read More

Is Your Management Style Lead By Intimidation?

So many women make the mistake of thinking that they... Read More

The Armaments Industry and Holy (?) Roman Emperors

"The time for fixing every essential right on a legal... Read More

Private Carrier Pepsi Embraces Diversity Amongst Employees

Many companies claim to be committed to diversity, but private... Read More