A Quick Guide to Business Etiquette Around the World

A Quick Guide to Business Etiquette Around the World

Don't make a cultural faux pas!

In today’s world, more business is conducted beyond our own borders, making us deal with people from different backgrounds and cultures. The last thing you want is to miss out on closing a big contract because of some etiquette blunder or due to a cultural barrier.

Here’s a quick guide on business customs around the world:

France: Apologizing for not speaking their language may help in developing a relationship, but the trick is to learn a few phrases which show interest in your business partner

Germany: The Germans do not appreciate business humor – so keep the jokes for after the meeting! Communication is very blunt and shouldn’t be perceived as rude

Japan: It is customary to bow when you’re greeting your business partner and to let the most senior person lead the meeting

Israel: Chit chat and interrupting a meeting are not frowned upon – but expect very direct and blunt communication.

USA: A firm handshake is the best way to greet your business partner. Also, try not to give gifts as some companies forbid it. A thank you card is always appreciated.

UK: Interruptions are not allowed during meetings and business attire is required. Subjects such as the weather are common and punctuality is very important.

India: Avoid saying “no” in a business meeting since it’s considered rude – instead say “we’ll see” or “possibly.” Never order a steak when eating out! (Cows are considered holy for Indians.) All documents are passed with the right hand as the left is seen as unclean.

Brazil: Brazilians prefer to meet face to face and often use physical contact; the person they deal with is usually more important than the company.

Italy: Kissing on the cheek is very common once a relationship has formed. When you’re given someone’s business card look closely at it before putting it in your card holder as it shows respect.

Regardless, there are some rules that apply everywhere and will get you far: Put your cell phone away during meetings. Do not engage in side conversations with coworkers when someone else is talking. Always be polite.

With that, we’ll wish you:

Bonne chance! Viel glück! がんばろうבהצלחה भाग्य का अच्छा Boa sorte! Buona fortuna!
Oh, yes… and good luck!

(VA Nathalie has lived in Venezuela, Israel and the USA and speaks English, Hebrew, Spanish and French, making her well equipped to write this post. 🙂


Submitted by Nathalie