Thomas L. Friedman popularized the phrase “the world is flat” in his 2005 book explaining that with increased globalization and inter-continental communication, the world has become a level playing field for commerce. Whether you agree that little to no boundaries exist in global business or think that national borders still have a substantial impact on global business relations, there’s no contesting that doing business across borders has become commonplace. With the rise of international relations, it’s become extremely important to acknowledge cultural differences and abide by cultural norms when doing business in foreign countries.
When meeting with your counterparts, there are many things to consider. How should you greet them? Should you make strong eye contact? When dining out, what kind of etiquette is expected? You may be surprised that in some countries, like New Zealand and Mexico, women are expected to initiate handshakes. In other countries, like the UAE and China, an emphasis is placed on greeting people in order of seniority. Body language is also important. In Japan, gesturing excessively or sitting with your legs crossed is considered rude. In New Zealand, a thumbs-up is taken as an insult. To help you determine what’s appropriate in international business settings, we created a guide to global business etiquette with tips on how to shake hands, the proper body language, expected attire, and more.
Now when you’re traveling for business, you’ll better understand the proper business etiquette. In Asian countries make sure to come prepared with business cards, as exchanging them is an important part of a first encounter. In Europe, remember that people are less inclined to talk about their personal lives than people in the United States, Brazil, or India. Familiarizing yourself with common practices in other countries is relatively easy, and it can really help you make a good first impression and establish long-lasting business relationships!