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Talk About International Business Blunders

Aug 17, 2007
When you are determined to pursue economic relations in the global market, there are a lot of seemingly unnoticeable details that need to be looked into. Cultures and traditions of different nations have to be greatly considered in order to avoid any international business blunders. It may not just be embarrassing on your end, worst is that it might be the cause of failure.

The reason behind it is that, there is lack of familiarity with the practices, customs and etiquette. Yes, there is a huge disparity because you come from both corners of the world but an initial step of any effort to discovery will always lead to success. Here are some tips to do away with those international business blunders.

Shake Hands or Bow Down?
In Japan, a slight stoop signifies respect and humility, such is very important to observe when having appointments with the Japanese. However, there are different levels that have its corresponding meaning. Shaking of hands are acceptable in Italy especially when saying bonjour or bidding ciao. In the United States, the males do not get on their feet when a female enters or leaves a room. They do not even kiss a womans hand because it is reserved for royalty. In Thailand, the conventional manner of welcoming a person is by placing both hands together in a prayer position at the chin and bending over in a certain angle. The higher the hands, more elevated regard is shown. Fingertips should not be raised above the eye level. Aside from hello, it means thank you and Im sorry. This is one of the international business blunders that is equivalent to refusing a hand shake in the Western coast.

Gift or Bribe?
Exchanging presents connotes the depth and strength of a commerce relationship with the Japanese. It is usually given at the first meeting. When having to receive something from them, it is also expected to share in return. In Germany, it is rarely done. Small finds are already appreciated but expensive ones are not a generally observed. However, it is not one of the international business blunders as compared to other countries.

Proper Gesture
The infamous OK sign that originated in the United States means good but it has several definitions in other places. In Brazil, it is a symbol for money carrying with it a vulgar connotation while it suggests zero in France. In the English county, one of the international business blunders is to sit with the ankle resting on the knee. Instead, the legs should be crossed with one knee on top of the other. Patting at the shoulder and putting an arm around the new acquaintance is also a no- no. In Thailand, it is offensive when an arm is placed over the back of the chair when a person is sitting. In Ethiopia, holding out the palm and repeatedly closing the hand indicates come here.

Name Calling
Using titles before the first name such as Mister or Madam is highly suggested in France, United Kingdom and Denmark. In Germany, first names are seldom applied. In Thailand, they address each other through first names and reserve the surnames in very formal events. In Belgium, communicating with French- speaking individuals should be as Monsieur or Madame while the Dutch are either Mister or Miss. Having the two mixed up is one of the international business blunders that can be a great insult for them.
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