Star Alliance airline network and PZ’s favorite monthly magazine, the very British Monocle, have issued a great traveling guide for business, cultural and local knowledge, illustrated by Satoshi Hashimoto.
As strong promoters of international relations, we are sharing with you these great tips to set you straight away on the right tracks wherever you go.
Enjoy and learn!
Save the best seat for the boss: in taxis and private rides alike, the Japanese observe a strict hierarchical seating plan where the best seat in a taxi is behind the driver. If your customer’s driving, the highest-ranked person must sit alongside to show respect.
In India, punctuality varies according to where you are. Traffic in Mumbai means that being slightly late is more acceptable than in a government city like Delhi, which operates like a clockwork. Check the local custom before you arrive.
Indians don’t like to say no to a request. If they are unable to do something, you are unlikely to get a direct refusal. Similarly, use tact and subtlety if you need to explain why a business proposal is not possible.
12. MIDDLE EAST
Women can avoid embarrassment in the Middle East by waiting to follow their male host’s lead when being introduced. Women might not be taken seriously at first, and some men may place their own hand on their chest rather than taking yours.
Be prepared for a detailed debate in Sweden: the Scandinavians love a meeting. Push it forward by setting dates, tasks and times, and don’t be surprised if a further meeting is required. Once something is agreed upon, it’s carried out with speed and efficiency.
At mealtimes in Germany, fold your napkin at the left side of your plate when you are done, and lay your cutlery parallel on your plate, with the handles on the right-hand side, to show you have finished.
In the UK, small talk is an essential preamble to business talk. The weather, the surroundings or the day’s events are all acceptable topics. After skirting round the real reason you’ve met, everyone will be happy to attend to the matter in hand professionally.
Don’t say no to a glass of baiju, the Chinese liquor of choice that is served at all formal dinners. But drink with restraint: draining your glass will result in a refill. Leaving it half-full is perfectly acceptable.
In Thailand, don’t touch or pass any thing over a person’s head, as in Thai culture the head is sacred. However, people often stand very close and touch each other on the arm when talking. Pointing is done with an open right hand, and beckoning with the palm facing downward and a waggle of the fingers.
The French sometimes give their surnames first when being formally introduced, and it can be considered rude to call a colleague by their first names. To avoid confusion, find out their names beforehand. Use “vous” rather than “tu”, unless invited otherwise, and never use “mademoiselle” to address a grown woman.