A new study by online printer instantprint reveals the most embarrassing blunders Brits have made in overseas business meetings and uncovers secrets for overcoming cultural differences.
The survey found that 78 per cent of British business travellers are not fully educated on business etiquette around the world, and 56 per cent have encountered an awkward situation as a result. View a full infographic of the most embarrassing stories here.
To help those travelling abroad for meetings, instantprint spoke with Business Etiquette International to uncover ten top tips for preparing to do business with other cultures.
1 Understand handshakes aren’t always normal – For instance, in China it’s wise to wait and see if your host offers a handshake first.
2 Learn local gifting customs – Before you turn up with a gift, ensure it won’t be seen as bribery by your clients.
3 Be aware of different customs in different countries – For example, the left hand is seen as unclean in the Middle East, so try to use your right hand more often when eating, especially when sharing dishes with others.
4 Curb your humour – Every country has a different sense of humour, so just keep in mind that what’s funny at home might be considered rude abroad.
5 Watch your body language – Research hand gestures and signals in your destination very carefully to avoid offending somebody by mistake.
6 Learn how to introduce yourself – Just as you should be aware of handshake customs, you should learn how people greet each other in the country to which you’re travelling. In China, it’s customary to bow slightly, while in Mexico greetings are much more physical, with handshakes and hugs.
7 Discover what the dress code is – Business attire isn’t always standard. For example, casual clothes are usually preferred in Sweden.
8 Be careful of your mannerisms – Like hand signals and gestures, there are rules regarding facial expressions, such as the fact that smiling in a meeting in Russia is viewed as insecure.
9 Learn how to present your business card – As Brits we’re used to nonchalantly doling out business cards with a casual gesture. In Hong Kong, however, it’s customary to give cards with both hands as a sign of respect.
10 Don’t be offended – Remember that you’re a visitor in another country. Be mindful that you may learn things about the local culture that don’t fit in with your routine. If you show respect for your colleagues, they’ll show the same for you.