International Business can often times get a little tricky, as different countries tend to have different ways of conducting themselves in the business world. That is why it is so important for any prospective business professional to become familiar with the different practices for wherever they travel for business. I recently read this article, outlining some important tips on international business customs. Here are five of my favorite tips that you should always keep in mind while conducting business abroad.
Do Not Mind Personal Space
In many countries, maintaining close proximity to the person who is speaking is a sign of trust. This can be very valuable as you look to establish long-term relationships. If you step away from a person who is looking to speak with you, it can unintentionally come off as a sign of disrespect.
Use Business Cards Properly
Handing out business cards may be more complicated than you would think. There are a number of countries that have specific rules about the proper distribution and receiving of business cards. If you are doing business in China, both hands must be used when receiving and giving a business card. Meanwhile, in Japan, it is customary to receive someone’s business card with a bow. No matter where you are, make sure that you treat a business card as a gift and with respect. The business card should be printed in both English and the language of the host country as well.
Be Aware Of Body Language
Controlling and interpreting body language is a major key to success for any business professional looking to do business abroad. You should always keep your hands out of your pockets as it is a sign of disrespect in many places, especially Russia and Ireland. Also, keep in mind that hugs and cheek kisses are very common in many countries, including Brazil and Belgium.
Be Aware Of Local Dietary Restrictions & Religious Beliefs
You should spend some time studying up on the country’s dietary customs before any trip. For example, you would never want to order or eat beef in India, as it is considered sacred by many people living there. It is also important to follow the local customs when eating food. In the Middle East and India, eating with the left hand is considered to be unclean. Chinese business banquets include many rounds of toasts, therefore, those drinking alcohol should pace themselves.
Don’t Break The Silence
Silence during a conversation can often be unbearable to Americans. However, this is not the case in many other countries. For example, in Finland, it is actually extremely common for there to be long periods of silence during meetings. It provides an opportunity to reflect on the meeting, instead of rushing into a decision or action. So think twice between you are tempted to make an unnecessary interjection just to break silence.