New Manual Offers International Business Etiquette Tips

In a globally connected world, those who wish to be truly successful need to demonstrate their ability to engage with suppliers, customers, business partners, and even coworkers from around the globe.


Source: thoth11 / iStock / Getty Images

Avoid Ethnocentrism

It’s tempting to assume that those engaged in global business share the same culture, despite strong cultural differences within remote parts of the world, but as Career Expert and Advice Columnist Anne Fisher says in an article for Fortune, “Depending on where in the world you go, it’s easy to offend people without realizing it, simply by acting—or interpreting other people’s actions—the same way you would at home.”
It’s virtually impossible to learn the intricacies of acceptable interaction among the hundreds of global cultures, but there are a handful of nations that make up most of global business. Fisher talked with Mina Wu, a content manager at Expedia who compiled the company’s new online etiquette handbook and included tips on business etiquette in 18 countries.

Etiquette in 18 Countries

The guide covers topics ranging from where to sit in a conference room, the importance of punctuality, and respect for seniority, among others.
Here’s an example of a cultural difference covered by Expedia: “Sometimes, behavior that Yanks would see as impolite is perfectly kosher elsewhere,” says Fisher. “For instance, in Japan, if someone seems to have drifted off to Dreamland while you were talking, odds are they’re actually more alert than usual.”
The guide elaborates, “They aren’t dozing off! Some Japanese close their eyes when they want to listen intently.”

Recognizing and Responding to Differences

Taking the time to learn about other cultures’ unique attributes and social norms when engaging with people in or from other countries can help you prevent unnecessary gaffes and increase meaningful connections.
Knowing how to properly and respectfully interact with the international business community can mean the difference between success and failure for a business, as well as for an individual’s career with that business. So, keep an eye on basic etiquette to avoid any costly gaffes.