Every country has their own rules and social norms. Make sure you never put a foot wrong in the business world again with this handy guide to the do's and don'ts of business etiquette around the world.
If you are heading to a meeting in Switzerland, then you might want to schedule an extra half an hour for some polite conversation. This might seem unnecessary to some, but the Swiss like to begin business meetings with 15 minutes or so of polite chit chat and ease into negotiations.
It might seem an obvious one but you would be surprised how many people don’t realise how important time keeping is in England. With the Brits being famed for their punctuality, being late for a meeting is seen as extremely rude and a general rule of thumb is to arrive five minutes early.
In a stark contrast to England’s punctuality, Israel generally runs a bit later and it is not uncommon for your meeting to start 20-30 minutes after it was scheduled. Another key thing to keep in mind is the tone of the meeting. Israel is a relation oriented culture so sentiments and conversation might come across as direct, but communication is based on outright honesty. Last but not least, it is considered polite and a mark of respect to address a person by their title and first name.
Another country with a very flexible thinking on time is Dubai. Meetings can often start anywhere from half an hour to two hours late. There are two main things to keep in mind when doing business in Dubai. The first is for men to remember the cultural norms; traditional women will not shake hands with men so do not offer your hand and cause offence for the woman having to refuse it. Secondly is on the subject of gifting, with the Emirati’s holding great importance on hospitality, it is considered rude to not accept any gifts or refreshments offered.
Business cards are a big deal in Japan, so if you are headed over there on a business trip, make sure you take along more than enough cards to last you. How you react to the cards is also extremely important, once offered the card you should read the card and place it in front of you carefully – playing with or defacing the card in any way is seen as extremely rude. Other than that, Japan is another country where time keeping is important and if you are going to be late, you will be expected to call ahead and inform the group. Personal habits are also slightly different in Japan, for instance blowing your nose in a public place is seen as disrespectful as is grabbing your hosts hand upon first meeting.
Status is key in Malaysia so make sure that you shake hands with the most senior member of the group first and work your way down the hierarchy. As in Dubai, many Malays may be uncomfortable shaking hands with the opposite sex so wait for a handshake to be offered before offering yours.
Relationships are hugely important when doing business in China so be expected to meet with the client several times before being able to close the deal. Another important fact to remember is that in China, people normally enter the meeting room in hierarchical order, so be careful how you file into the room. Last but not least is on the behaviour, it is vital not to embarrass any member of either team or show too much emotion as this could have a negative effect on negotiations.
Another country where business cards are key is in the Philippines. As the visitor, you will be expected to offer your card first, remembering to give it face upwards but remember, if you rank is not comparable or lower than the recipient, you may not be offered a card in return. Relationships are also key in the Philippines and small talk is expected at the beginning of every meeting.
How you dress will play a huge part in how you are viewed in Italy. It might seem obvious but looking clean, polished and dressing in a contemporary style represents status and wealth and will have a bearing on how you are treated. Another thing to keep in mind is that Italians are not famed for their punctuality and see nothing wrong with being late for meetings or appointments so patience is always key.
Poppy covers a wide range of topics at Billionaire, having spent the past 13 years at companies including Singapore Tatler, Her World Plus and Harpers Bazaar UK. She has a passion for fashion, jewellery and travel as well as an avaricious fascination with crime novels. Follow her at poppypskinner on Instagram.