When you travel the world for business it is hard to know how to act in different countries or cultures.
Executives may question how to handle the handshake, table manners in a social setting, office dress codes and more. Depending on where you travel, the answers to these questions differ, but BlueOrange Travel, an agency specializing in corporate and luxury travel worldwide, has the answers. Keep this etiquette guide handy when you book your business trips to destinations around the world.
A Travel Executive’s Guide to Manners Around the World
European business men and women prefer firm handshakes, unless you are in France where new colleagues are better greeted with a less-firm grip. According to the Business Insider, in France, it is also best to apologize for not speaking the language fluently when you meet someone new. If business takes you to Europe, plan to pack your suits as offices are sometimes more formal than their American counterparts.
When dining out for business in Europe, it is best to carry over the formal dress and to arrive on time. A gift is always a nice gesture, but never give anything too expensive, especially in Spain, because costly gifts are sometimes seen as a bribe. Also in Spain, good manners dictate that you wait until your host says, “Buen Apetito” before you begin eating, but refrain from business talk during the meal.
Asia and Australia
The firmness of your handshake depends on where you travel through Asia and Australia. Consider combining a firm handshake with “Namaste,” in India or soften your grip in Japan. In countries like China, present your business card in your two cupped hands while you nod your head. When you receive a card, always examine it carefully before putting it somewhere important, like your breast pocket.
By contrast, Australia is more casual and relaxed. They prefer first name interactions, although it is a good idea to use Miss or Mr with your firm handshake the first time you meet a new associate. If you invite an Australian to a business dinner, expect to pick up the check. Business is often conducted over “Rounds” of beer, so be prepared to buy drinks for the group while talking about work.
Business is a formal affair in South America, and executives are expected to dress the part. Dark suits for men and women are best, and skirts should reach the knee. Often, in Mexico, associates will avoid direct eye contact. In their culture, this is a sign of respect. Throughout Latin America, people get physically close to have direct conversations, and stepping away or back is considered disrespectful. First meetings are typically considered time to get to know new colleagues and important business is saved for the second meeting.
The biggest difference in conducting business in the Middle East and in Western cultures is the different work week. Because Friday is the holy day in Islam, much of the region considers Sunday through Thursday their work week. This includes countries like Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Egypt and Iraq.
According to Isti Zada, handshakes can last longer in the Middle East than they do in Western countries, so it’s best to wait for the other person to pull their hand back first. Because language is a source of pride for many cultures in the region, learning a few greetings or having your business cards printed in English and Arabic can go a long way toward making your associate feel respected and welcome.
No matter where travel takes them, it is good business for executives to understand the changing cultures, traditions and manners of their destination. Let BlueOrange travel help plan your business and leisure luxury travel. Call or visit their website today.