When it comes to doing business around the world, you will need to follow the global rules of etiquette to avoid offending someone. This will also help to avoid misunderstandings that could potentially ruin your whole trip. Here are some of the most important elements of global business etiquette to follow.
If after reading you would like to add some specific to your country please do so in the comments below.
Research the Country Before You Leave
Golden rule number one, do some research: It’s not going to be possible to remember all elements of every single culture all the time and you’ll be forgiven for forgetting all about them when you get home! The important thing is remembering about the specific cultural expectations when you are visiting that particular culture.
Do plenty of research as soon as you find out you are leaving and where you are going. Find out what is expected in business meetings, and whether certain types of questions will be out of the ordinary. For example, the Japanese will openly ask about your salary and discuss theirs but for the British it would be a mistake and indeed uncomfortable to ask this.
Learn Some of the Language
No, you don’t need to spend months learning every single aspect, but do spend some time learning certain words and phrases. Your business partners or potential clients may speak your language, but learning theirs will show respect. Your phrasing may be wrong and your words may be slightly misused, but the natives will appreciate your efforts.
This is all the easier with plenty of resources available online and on your smart phone. Recommended apps would be Duolingo, Memrise and HelloTalk and these allow you to spend your time at the airport constructively.
Time to Recover from Jet Lag
Most people suffer from it, but you don’t want it to affect your business negotiations. You can combat it by arriving a few days earlier than your meeting. If that isn’t possible, rest in the days before you travel and make sure you drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol. If you are going to get to the destination in the day, avoid sleeping on the plane if possible. It will throw your body clock out!
Find Ways to Blend In
British and American people tend to stand out the most when they are away. Their natural personalities are often louder and more colorful than many other nations. It’s important that if you want your business trip to succeed, you will need to blend in and work with the constraints of the cultures expectations.
Opt for conservative styles when dressing. You may want to keep to your personal attire, but a business suit will show clients and business leaders respect. Find ways that will prevent you from standing out any more than you already will do.
Understand Gender Roles and Personal Contact
Each nation has its own expectations of men and women. There are rules about personal and business contact, which you will need to follow to avoid offending anyone. Arab and Indian nations will allow handshaking between men and women, but any other contact is frowned upon. In Argentina, the women will initiate any handshakes with men.
You’ll also need to add hierarchy into this, especially with family businesses. If you’re ever unsure, speak to the older member of the party, as they are likely to be the most senior.
Watch Out for Slang
Just because the person you are meeting with understands English, doesn’t mean they will understand slang and jargon. It’s important to define everything and if anything can ever be taken in a different way, make it clear which way you mean it. Try to avoid slang altogether, as it could be taken literally!
When you visit another country, it is extremely important to show respect. This is more so for business, as people won’t want to do deals or work with you if you offend them. Take your time to do some research into the country you’re visiting and learn all the expected greetings and cultural actions.
If you would like to add some specific to your country please do so in the comments below.
For specific etiquette tips for doing business in Barcelona, Catalonia and the rest of Spain click here for your free copy of “Thriving in Barcelona: Tips for Business Travelers”