Regional Cultural Tips

How do I appropriately greet a new business partner or colleague?

Firm Handshake Soft Handshake Bow/Nod Introductions may happen by mutual third party No cross-gender handshaking is possible Hugging or Kissing or other informal greetings may occur
Western Europe/North America
O
O
Eastern Europe
O
O
Asia
O
O
O
O
Africa*
O
O
Latin America
O
O
Middle East
O
O

How do I handle giving and receiving business cards?

No great weight is attached to business cards, outside of networking value Card exchange may be a formal process, which happens at the beginning of the introduction Do not present business card with left hand Do not bend card or place in backpocket, where it can be sat upon English-only cards are acceptable Cards with English and language of host country are preferred
Western Europe/North America
O
O
O
Eastern Europe
O
O
Asia
O
O
O
O
Africa*
O
O
Latin America
O
O
Middle East
O
O
O

How should I dress when traveling abroad for work?

Neat, clean and formal – suit, trousers, skirts Loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts and full lengths skirts for women Leather or pig-related text on clothing may be unacceptable or disrespectful Remember warm clothing due to cold climates
Western Europe/North America
O
O
Eastern Europe
O
O
Asia
O
O
O
O
Africa*
O
Latin America
O
Middle East
O
O
O

How do I give and accept gifts?

Gift giving does not play an important role in business The ritual of gift giving is important among business colleagues Gifts should not be overly expensive or personal Take a gift when invited to someone’s house Do not give knives as gifts
Western Europe/North America
O
O
O
Eastern Europe
O
O
O
Asia
O
O
O
Africa*
O
O
Latin America
O
O
O
Middle East
O
O
O

What are the international rules for body language?

Little physical contant among colleagues; subtle, undemonstrative body language; arm’s length when talking Smiling is not a must in business settings; it is often reserved for friends and family Body language can be demonstrative and involving touching when talking Little or no physical contact between men and women Greetings can include hugging, cheek kissing or kissing a woman’s hand
Western Europe/North America
O
O
Eastern Europe
O
O
Asia
O
O
O
Africa*
O
Latin America
O
Middle East
O
O

What are different attitudes about time around the world?

“Time is money” attitude Relationships take priority over deadlines Patient, unhurried approach to work Punctuality can very be important Clock-bound time management is not important or practiced
Western Europe/North America
O
O
Eastern Europe
O
O
O
Asia
O
O
O
O
Africa*
O
O
Latin America
O
O
O
Middle East
O
O
O

How will my gender impact my business interactions abroad?

Traditional roles for men (providers) and women (homemakers) are prevalent Gender discrimination is frowned upon and often illegal Men and women both may engage in flirtation in the workplace; this may not be considered inappropriate or sexual harrassment
Western Europe/North America
O
O
Eastern Europe
O
Asia
O
Africa*
O
Latin America
O
O
Middle East
O

* Based on South Africa

[Source: Olofsson, G. (2004). When in Rome or Rio or Riyadh: Cultural Q & As for Successful Business Behavior Around the World. http://www.nicholasbrealey.com/boston/e-when-in-rome-or-rio-or-riyadh.html]