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International Business Etiquette

Today’s Business Environment is becoming global. People involved in International Business need to communicate with their clients through emails, phone calls and voice chats. They even attend meetings and conferences which take place in different parts of the world. Any business would become successful only if the clients are treated with utmost hospitality. The behaviours and manners in a business environment are collectively called as Business Etiquette.

It is mandatory for every businessman and woman to be aware of these international business etiquettes and keep them in their mind. But etiquette is not recognized as one uniform set of standards around the globe. It varies from country to country.

A thorough understanding of cultural diversity across the world would help them to strengthen their relationships and build international clientele. For example, a hand gesture in one country may have the exact opposite meaning in another culture. Thus a minute misstep would end up being a misfire.

Here are few basic things which are noteworthy.


Handshake for greeting and meeting is almost common around the world except in few countries. The Americans give handshake lasting for 3 to 5 seconds, with a firm grip, two quick pumps, eye contact and a smile. The Japanese give a lighter handshake. While Germans offer a firm shake with one pump, French give a lighter with a quick pump. Middle Eastern people continue the same for a longer time.


Addressing in the US is very formal; you can call people with their first names whereas in other cultures, it is better to call their last names or titles since first names are being reserved for family and friends.


Generally business cards are given as a mark of showing respect. While presenting your card to people from Japan, China, Singapore or Hong Kong, you ought to use both the hands. And while receiving card from others, looking at it, acknowledging and placing it carefully in your card case is essential.


Dressing in American business environment usually shows fashion and comfort, but in other parts of the world people dress conservatively.


Now let us have a quick look on the business etiquettes followed in various nations


While doing a long-term business, it is smart to give yourself a Chinese name as it is a sign of respect and commitment.

Chinese business people appreciate presenting small gifts .But gifting clocks, straw sandals, handkerchief a crane or a stork should be avoided since they represent death. White, black or blue wrapping paper should not to be used for wrapping your gifts

The Chinese have a culture of declining a gift three times before finally accepting, so as not to appear greedy. You will have to continue to insist. Once the gift is accepted, you need to express gratitude. You will be expected to go through the same routine if you are offered a gift


Japanese culture expects each of your counterparts to bow during an introduction, wait for their turn to initiate a handshake.

When entering a meeting, you should sit across from your counterpart with a similar level of experience. Your junior staffers should not sit across from senior team members.


Knowing French would help doing a better business in France; but in case of not knowing French language, it is important to apologize for your lack of knowledge.

When interrupting frequently is considered as impolite in other cultures, in France it is neither rude nor impolite, but entertaining.

French men never loosen their ties or take off their jackets; as such behavior is considered unprofessional.

United States of America

Gift giving is discouraged or limited in US business environments. Instead a gracious written note is always considered appropriate.

Business meetings are generally arranged as breakfast meetings, luncheon meetings, or dinner meetings depending upon the time schedule and necessity.

United Kingdom

Men’s shirts should not have pocket; if they do,the pockets should always be kept empty.

Eye contact is seldom kept during British conversations.

Tapping the nose is done to signal that something is to be kept confidential or secret.


Indians are very formal upon the first meeting.

Elders are respected and deferred to, even in  the matters of business.

Never order beef in the food menu during business meetings; as Indians have a culture of worshipping cows.


In Brazilian culture, leaving early from meetings is considered rude. Brazilians stand close during conversations since closeness according to them ensures trust which in turn reflects long term relationship.

Brazilians consider all big events and celebrations and prioritize them over doing business.


Canadians tend to be extremely punctual and meetings are well-organized adhere to time schedules.

Canadians stand approximately half a metre apart when speaking in a business conversation.

Canadians will not wait more than 10 to 15 minutes for someone who has arranged to meet them for business.


Germans are hard-working and masters of planning. Business events are very structured.


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