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.
In Russia, women do not normally expect to be greeted during introductions. This is changing as more people travel, however, so be ready to follow your host’s lead.
In Canada, drinking alcohol is not usual during business lunches. Stick to water unless your host suggests otherwise.
In China, taste every thing you’re offered during meals – but never clear your plate as your host will assume you’re still hungry. Don’t talk business during meals.
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.
In Japan, always have a business card close to hand. And when an associate gives you their card, handle it with care.
Americans like to be relaxed and those in charge are keen to relive the easygoing business practices of the 1960s. So drop the formality but, of course, keep your manners.
Using only a forefinger is an empty gesture in China: making a point requires the whole hand. Don’t go further than that though – a back-slap is considered inappropriate.
In China, starters are served as several small dishes on a plate. Start from the left and eat your way to the right, as the flavor of dishes increases in intensity along the way.
Don’t put your briefcase or bag on the ground in Brazil: national security measures have informed the national psyche, so place it on a chair or a hook.
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.
Always turn up on time: if you arrive a minute past the appointed hour it is considered strange, five minutes is a cause for concern. There is no word for “late” in Japanese.
Toasting in Sweden involves eye contact but no glass-touching. A “skol” and a nod to everyone will do the trick.
In Singapore, modesty is key. Overconfident behaviour will not impress and will not produce good working relationships.
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 US be ready to produce proof of your identity. Increased security means photo ID is required to access many office buildings, so don’t be offended when you’re asked.
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.
Norwegians like to talk directly and deliberately. They tend to stick to the facts, and do not like being rushed.
In Denmark, women are greeted before the men. Danes tend to use only their first names. Personal hellos and goodbyes are required for everyone present.
Like Japan, China places great emphasis on seating hierarchy. The leader of your delegation will be seated at a round table next to the leader of theirs, and the pattern will follow all the way down.
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.