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July 28, 2017

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Business Etiquette Guide for Australian Trade Countries

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Australia is a laid back and easy going culture, characterised by informal behaviour. But what happens when you are in a business environment, and you have to deal with people who are not as ‘relaxed’ as Australians? Business is all about relationships and good communication is the key, so it’s extremely important for your business to get this right.

It’s important to be aware that in most other societies and countries titles are much more significant than they are here, and social structures are more heavily emphasised. For example, in Asia it is polite to address people by their title or status, whereas in Australia we prefer addressing each other by our first names. But if you don’t know that, you will instantly be perceived as rude and disrespectful.

In the globalised world we live in, it’s crucial for Australians to be familiar with the business etiquette not only by learning how the rest of the world acts, but also by understanding which aspects of Australian culture pose the biggest challenges for foreigners to understand.

A good question to ask yourself when dealing with a business colleague or potential client from another culture is ‘How might someone who has grown up in a different culture interpret what I say or do?’

In this guide, we will introduce you to some specific etiquette rules, so you can avoid making any mistakes that may cost you a business relationship.

Asia

undefinedChina

Greetings

  • Bowing or nodding is the most common way to greet in a business meeting, but sometimes handshakes take place. Wait for your host to offer his/her hand first.

Manners

  • Don’t put you hand in your mouth, as this is considered rude.
  • Punctuality is vital.
  • When pointing or gesturing to someone, do it with your open palm rather than using one finger.
  • Table manners
  • Don’t discuss business at meals.
  • Don’t eat all the food on your plate/what is served to you, as the Chinese will think you didn’t have enough. Always leave a small amount of food on your plate.
  • Tipping is considered rude.
  • Wait for your host to start eating before you take a mouthful.

Clothing

  • If you are a man, wear conservative suits with subtle colours.
  • If you are a woman, wear conservative business clothing and forget the high heels.

Business gifts

  • Quality pens are considered a good gift.
  • Always deliver a gift personally, and present it in private as opposed to in front of a group.
  • Never give any of the following, as they are associated with death: clocks, straw sandals, a stork or crane, handkerchiefs, or anything white, blue or black.

How to present business cards

  • Present and receive business cards with both hands, and always have more than one available in case there is more than one business associate at the meeting.
  • Also ensure that you bring several copies of all important documents to the meeting.

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Japan

Greetings

  • Bows are the most common way to greet someone. How low and how long the bow is will vary according to the relationship with your host.

Manners

  • Personal space is valued.
  • Avoid grand hand gestures when you speak.
  • Don’t blow your nose in public.
  • Moments of silence are valued. Do not try to make conversation if your host wishes to enjoy the silence.

Table manners

  • It’s fine to slurp your noodles when eating, as it means you enjoy them.
  • Never fill your own cup, instead only fill other people’s until someone else fills yours.

Clothing

  • Dark, traditional suits are the best option for men.
  • Women should keep accessories to a minimum, and avoid pants and high heels in a formal situation.
  • Make sure your shoes are easy to take off and put back on, as you will be doing this regularly.

Business gifts

  • You should always present the gift with both hands.
  • Must be given at the end of a visit.
  • Always wrap it, but remember the paper must not be plain white.

How to present business cards

  • Receive and present gifts with both hands.
  • Print them with one side in English and one side in Japanese. Present it with the Japanese side facing up.
  • Being respectful with business cards is very important. Upon receiving one, take your time, read it carefully, and do not put it in your wallet or pocket as it will be considered disrespectful.

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Singapore

Greetings

  • Shake hands and give a small bow

Manners

  • Never touch a person or child’s head, as it is considered sacred.
  • Always be punctual.
  • Do not point with your index finger.
  • The feet are considered unclean.
  • Chewing gum is illegal.
  • You should avoid talking about religion or politics.
  • Keep jokes to a minimum until you know the person well.

Table manners

  • Allow your host to start eating before you do.
  • It is impolite to refuse food or drinks.

Clothing

  • Dress is normally very casual because of different ethnicities.
  • Try to look professional in a business environment, however jackets are not required.
  • Women should try to cover their arms and wear long sleeved shirts.

Business gifts

  • Try to avoid business gifts, as they may be considered a bribe.
  • Receive a gift with both hands.

How to present business cards

  • Use both hands.

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Korea

Greetings

  • A bow is considered the traditional greeting, but it’s also important that you bow when departing as well.

Manners

  • Address Koreans using their appropriate professional titles.
  • Don’t cross your legs.
  • Don’t point with your index finger, as this is considered highly rude.

Table manners

  • Don’t pour your own drink.
  • Pass and receive food with your right hand, and use your left to support your right wrist.

Clothing

  • Always dress to impress.
  • For women, dressing well but modestly is essential.

Business gifts

  • Present business gifts with both hands.
  • Never give liquor as a gift to a woman.
  • Always wrap it, preferably with bright colours. 

How to present business cards

  • You should always present your business card with both hands, as this is a sign of respect.

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India

  • Greetings
    Men are permitted to shake hands, but it is not considered de rigeur to shake hands with a woman.

Manners

  • Personal space is valued, so make sure you don’t crowd other people.
  • Public displays of affection are not proper.
  • While passing things or handling money, only use your right hand. The left hand is considered extremely unclean.
  • Don’t touch anyone’s head.
  • Point with an open palm.
  • Feet are considered unclean, so do not speak of them. You should also be pepared to remove your shoes frequently.

Table manners

  • Don’t refuse food, and don’t leave your plate empty.
  • The host will pay for the meal, and arguing with them about who shall pay is extremely insulting.

Clothing

  • Dress conservatively, and in traditional colours. You should ensure your socks are clean and don’t have holes, for when you are asked to take off your shoes before entering someone’s home.
  • Women should wear conservative, long dresses. They should not be revealing.

Business gifts

  • They are not expected on the first meeting.
  • A gift from your country will be highly regarded .
  • Always present gifts with both hands.

How to present business cards

  • Present business cards while being introduced, and always use your right hand or your card is likely to be rejected.

Middle East

undefinedUnited Arab Emirates

Greetings

  • Between men, it is considered acceptable to shake hands. Women, however, must wait to see if their host extends their hands first, in which case you are permitted to shake.

Manners

  • It’s not permitted to talk about your host’s women in the family, not even to enquire about their health.
  • It’s recommended that you don’t talk about Israel.
  • Talking about sports is generally a good topic choice.
  • Don’t use the “thumbs up” symbol, as it may be offensive to some.

Table manners

  • Don’t cross your legs while sitting, as this is considered rude.

Clothing

  • For both men and women, you should always dress conservatively and not at all revealing. Try to cover your body as much as you can, but never try to wear the locals clothing as it may be considered offensive.
  • Women are advised to wear long skirts or dresses rather than pants, and the baggier the better.
  • For men, try to wear conservative and traditional suits.

Business gifts

  • Gifts are not necessary, but appreciated. They will be opened in private, never in front of you.
  • Don’t give alcohol, perfumes containing alcohol, pork, pork-skin products, personal items (such as underwear), anything with a dog in it or anything picturing a dog.

How to present business cards

  • Always present a business card with your right hand; the left hand is considered inappropriate and it’s reserved for hygiene purposes.

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Saudi Arabia

Greetings

  • Hand shaking is an acceptable greeting between men, but women will again have to wait to see if the host extends their hand first.

Manners

  • Don’t talk about women, or ask your host about the women in his life.
  • Don’t talk about Israel.
  • Again, sports is a good topic of conversation.
  • Be prepared for your host to interrupt any meetings for daily prayers (which are held 5 times a day).

Table manners

  • Alcohol and pork are illegal, and you will lost respect from your hosts if you comment on this.
  • Try not to cross your legs while sitting

Clothing

  • You should always dress extremely conservatively, and never show stomach, shoulders, calves, and thighs.
  • As a woman, try to cover as much of your body as you can, and men should take care to wear visible jewellery other than wedding rings or watches.
  • Men should also only wear long pants. If dressing formal, jacket, a tie and a shirt buttoned up to the collar is appropriate.

Business gifts

  • They are not necessary, but are highly appreciated.

How to present business cards

  • Always receive and present with your right hand, as the left hand is considered unclean.

Europe

undefinedUnited Kingdom

Greetings

  • You should shake hands with everyone present, including kids. And unless you’re invited to use first names, it’s polite to only use last names and titles.

Manners

  • The British are generally reserved in public and they appreciate their personal space.
  • Staring is considered rude, so you should politely avert eye contact.
  • Always be punctual.
  • Don’t talk bad about the Royal Family or show too much interest about their personal lives.

Table manners

  • Wait for your host to start eating before you do.
  • Keep both hands at the table while eating; making sure your elbows don’t touch the table.
  • When finished, leave your cutlery on the 5:25 position on the plate.

Clothing

  • Traditional colour suits are commonly worn by men.
  • Women should wear business attire for meetings, but other than that are not restricted in clothing.

Business gifts

  • Not very common in business settings, however if you are invited to someone’s home then a small ‘thank you’ gift is appropriate. These include chocolates, wine, champagne or a book. 

How to present business cards

  • Use your right hand to present your card.

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Germany

Greetings

  • Shaking hands at the start and at the end of a meeting is acceptable, often with a subtle nod.
  • Make sure to maintain eye contact during the handshake.

Manners

  • Chewing gum in company is considered rude.
  • Always be punctual.
  • Don’t joke in a business environment.

Clothing

  • You should wear conservative, dark coloured suits and a traditional tie.
  • For women, a suit and a white blouse is a good choice.

Business gifts

  • It is not common to give business gifts.

How to present business cards

  • You should always use your right hand to present your business card.

undefinedItaly

Greetings

  • You should always shake hands with everyone present, and then shake hands again when leaving too.

Manners

  • Always maintain eye contact when talking.
  • Body language is appreciated.

Table manners

  • If you invite others (as in, you’re the host), it means that you pay for the meal.
  • Don’t use a spoon to roll your pasta.
  • Burping is considered very vulgar. If you must burp, do so discreetly behind a napkin.
  • Place both hands on the table while eating.
  • Leave your cutlery on the 5:25 position when finished.

Clothing

  • Dress elegantly, but also somewhat conservatively.
  • Women should wear ‘feminine’ clothing such as a skirt or dress.

Business gifts

  • Must be high quality, and beautifully wrapped.
  • If invited to someone’s home, always bring a present to the hostess.

How to present business cards

  • When presenting or accepting a business card, you should always use your right hand. If you have been given a card, read it carefully before putting it away as this is a sign of respect.

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France

Greetings

  • Shake hands both upon arrival and when you leave.
  • If you don’t speak French, it’s advised to ask your host/associate if they speak English in French ( parlez vous anglais?)

Manners

  • Use academic degrees and titles when addressing someone, as these are considered important.
  • Always be punctual. 

Table manners

  • Toothpicks are considered inappropriate and should only be used in private.
  • Keep your hands out of your pockets.
  • Try to not yawn in public.
  • Wait for your host to start eating.
  • Eat everything on your plate.

Clothing

  • You should always dress to impress, and be well presented and conservative.

Business gifts

  • Any business gifts should be of very good quality, or no gift given at all.

How to present business cards

  • You should present business cards with your right hand.

North America

United States

Greetings

  • In business situations, it’s recommended that you always shake hands. However, in more ‘informal’ situations a simple hello will suffice.

Manners

  • It is considered rude to stare.
  • Be mindful of personal space .
  • It’s generally OK to joke and be more informal, but always keep in mind the personality of your host.
  • They are very direct in the way they conduct business, and appreciate it when others are the same.
  • Be punctual. 

Table manners

  • The person who invites others for the meal generally pays for it.
  • Americans tend to be faster at eating than other countries, and don’t linger for long afterward.
  • Manners on the table can be a bit relaxed.

Clothing

  • Americans are not as strict when it comes to clothing, but you should always be clean and try to look presentable and modest. 

Business gifts

  • It’s becoming uncommon to bring gifts, but a local gift from your country (like a bottle of wine) will usually be highly appreciated.

How to present business cards

  • Use your right hand when presenting a business card.

South America

undefinedBrazil

Greetings

  • Handshakes are common, and make sure that you take the time to greet everyone at the start and say goodbye to everyone at the end of the meeting.

Manners

  • Soccer, the country’s rapid economic growth, and family are good topics to talk about.

Table manners

  • Always wash your hands before eating.
  • Avoid touching food with your hands.
  • Do not use toothpicks in public.

Clothing

  • Appearances count, so you should always dress to impress.
  • Women are not expected to dress conservatively (in fact, it’s almost the opposite! However, they are always expected to look feminine in their outfit choice.
  • Men are advised to wear a good quality, traditional suit.

Business gifts

  • Gifts are not expected, but if you give a good quality gift (not overly expensive) it is likely to be appreciated.

How to present business cards

  • Always present your business card with your right hand.

undefinedChile

Greetings

  • Men shake hands to greet other men, but kiss women on the cheek only once.
  • Women kiss both men and women on the cheek once.

Manners

  • Soccer, economic growth, international travel, wine, education, and family are good topics of conversation.
  • Avoid talking about the past political history completely.
  • Good manners are highly regarded, as they are associated with quality education and family values, which are very important for Chileans.
  • Cover your mouth while yawning or coughing.
  • Speaking loudly is a sign of confidence.
  • Always maintain eye contact.
  • Punctuality is respected.

Table manners

  • Always keep both hands on the table during the meal, and avoid your elbows from touching the table at all times.
  • The use of toothpicks is not acceptable.
  • When you’re done eating, leave the cutlery on the 5:25 position on the plate.
  • Proper table manners are extremely important.

Clothing

  • Business clothing is conservative, and flashy suits or bright-coloured suits for men are not acceptable. You should wear a traditional tie as well.
  • And while appearances are important, expensive brands are likely to go unnoticed.

Business gifts

  • Business gifts are not expected.

How to present business cards

  • Using your right hand is considered appropriate.

Africa

undefinedSouth Africa

Greetings

  • A handshake is the most common way to greet someone in South Africa.

Clothing

  • Men should wear dark and traditional suits, while women should wear elegant dresses or business suits.

Business gifts

  • Gift giving is an uncommon practice, but if you do give a gift then it should always be presented with your right hand, not your left.

How to present business cards

  • When presenting your business card, you should either use both hands, or only the right hand.

Images:

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-13595080/stock-photo-business-people-shaking-hands-outside-modern-office-building.html?src=1wiZdQ7XvZYITbmGfMlicw-1-83

http://thumb7.shutterstock.com/display_pic_with_logo/363574/363574,1296995249,1/stock-photo-chinese-national-flag-with-blue-sky-as-background-70563685.jpg

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-165050315/stock-photo-the-national-flag-of-japan-officially-called-nisshoki-in-japanese-but-is-more-commonly-known-as.html?src=q3oaRvAjuObTuBazDXQ4nw-1-50

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-280093658/stock-photo-singapore-d-flag-floating-in-the-wind-with-a-blue-sky-background.html?src=Mn9QJO1gh_RLvL-D2JGlkg-1-51

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-160459334/stock-photo-south-korea-flag-waving-on-the-wind.html?src=jNEkmL1bY11rzrx1xFSQjg-1-85

http://thumb101.shutterstock.com/display_pic_with_logo/762415/275918183/stock-photo-india-d-flag-floating-in-the-wind-with-a-blue-sky-background-275918183.jpg

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-159416168/stock-photo-united-arab-emirates-flag-waving-on-the-wind.html?src=pp-same_artist-157218878-iObL-WqqEvbKcO99316Veg-1

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-159287630/stock-photo-saudi-arabia-flag-waving-on-the-wind.html?src=whfQGiqLsapZw3bIjhYj7Q-1-37

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-160149389/stock-photo-united-kingdom-flag-waving-on-wind.html?src=g1VvvS7D8J8DribGChjlAw-2-7

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-108047546/stock-photo-germany-flag-with-clipping-path.html?src=JP79Irns7z8IZAvs1GdYfA-1-20

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-50331703/stock-photo-full-italy-flag-on-a-blue-sky.html?src=PwEeWuxkgHnCvLB1bY4G5A-1-58

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-53969788/stock-photo-full-flag-of-france.html?src=kIBXDZH-El9CskeXh0qn8A-1-54

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-145105024/stock-photo-u-s-a-flag-united-states-of-america-flag-the-red-white-and-blue-flag-waving-in-the-wind-the.html?src=JrNCPdr8sdx_0IeRdtTG6Q-1-60

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-109258742/stock-photo-brazil-flag-with-clipping-path.html?src=0i2WhwdrCQSsbLyJP9AjSg-1-60

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-49146061/stock-photo-chilean-flag.html?src=Q8xIQ0tkQRVHZX9XB_cu4A-1-56

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-280093835/stock-photo-south-africa-d-flag-floating-in-the-wind-with-a-blue-sky-background.html?src=uDBYPl0G9AkRe9M5fLp4SQ-1-75

 

Posted on Oct 29, 2015 | Tags: Blog

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