Monday, September 19, 2005

Etiquette for Entrepreneurs

The “Mind Your Manners” article from Inc. reminds us that thinking globally isn’t just a mantra for dealing with supply chains and foreign markets. You also have to be a bit of a diplomat to navigate the sometimes complex waters of foreign protocol.

After all, what’s acceptable in the US may be a grievous deal-breaking faux pas in other countries. All the business acumen in the world won’t save a business deal unless you mind your manners in whichever country your business dealings occur.

Here’s an introduction of protocol tips pulled from Norine Dresser’s updated 1996 book “Multicultural Manners”.
  • Business cards: When you accept a business card in Asian countries, writing on a card or shoving it in your pocket is considered insulting.
  • Desk etiquette: don’t lean against or place objects on the desk of a prospective Asian client; it’s considered disrespectful.
  • Deal-making: In China, Korea as well as many Middle Eastern and Latin American countries, don’t rush the deal. A decent rapport must first be established through informal meetings before the negotiations begin.
  • Public displays of affection: in the Middle East it is customary for men to greet each other with a kiss on both cheeks and holding hands between two men is common, but take your host’s lead.

Having insight into foreign protocol will win you respect and good sentiments in whatever country you do business, essential to building a stronger business.

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