International business means a lot of travel around the world.
Meeting foreign colleagues face-to-face means trips to a range of exotic places, some of which have very different customs and traditions.
It’s important to know of these things before you visit, otherwise you could both embarrass yourself and insult your hosts.
You could even end up losing a deal or causing your business real damage.
United Arab Emirates
If you are left-handed and want to do business in the United Arab Emirates, your business trip might be quite a stressful one.
In the UAE, the left hand is considered unclean and only used for body hygiene.
As a result, any left-handed people must remember to do things like shaking hands, eating and passing items like documents with their right hands.
If they forget not to do what comes naturally to them it can be seen as a serious insult.
A simple task of saying hello and goodbye in Belgium can take time.
While in most countries, handshaking is enough, when closing a business deal in Belgium, the case is entirely different.
Belgians favor a kiss or an air kiss.
Once the business relationship has been cemented, they greet each other with three air kisses.
Remembers this: Right cheek, left cheek and left cheek again.
Not following the tradition is considered very disrespectful.
In Russia, they like to test your patience.
Normally, if you’ve arrange a meeting at a specific time, you’d expect people to arrive at that time.
However, Russians arrive as late as they want, and they don’t apologize.
This is done to test how patient their business partners are.
When visiting India, it’s very important to know about the religious importance of a particular animal.
That animal is the cow.
In other countries, beef makes up a regular part of people’s diets.
But in India, eating beef is considered a sign of disrespect, so while you can get it in some parts of the country, it’s a good idea to avoid ordering a steak or burger,
Wearing leather is also seen as disrespectful, which provides a tricky situation for westerners with their belts and shoes.
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If you go to China, you need to both bring a gift to a business meeting, and then work hard to get your hosts to accept it.
In China, the tradition is that a gift must be refused up to three times before they can be accepted.
But don’t give up, it’s essential not to stop offering the present until it’s eventually taken.
British business people have their own unusual practice which is a secret signal to indicate they’re about to discuss something private.
When British people tap their noses, you should not see that as something unimportant as it’s very much the opposite.
This action signals that what is about to be said is private and shouldn’t be shared with anyone else.
A business card holds much importance in Japan.
When negotiating or speaking with Japanese business people, you should always carry lots of business cards.
They must be printed in English and Japanese.
They need to be distributed with both hands and you must thank them when accepting the business card.
The business cards must also be in perfect condition, don’t hand over one that has been scribbled on or crumpled.