The Principles Of Business Etiquette

From making the first move to knowing how to handle business across different countries, here is how to rock your business etiquette.

Building relationships can be one of the most rewarding effects of our very existence. After all, humans are born to be social. 

Etiquette is about following certain rules which mainly boil down the way we conduct ourselves, creating circumstances where our colleagues and business associates experience good manners, consideration and feel that there is a clear element of integrity. 

Most especially when you’re involved in international business it can have far reaching effects when you understand the cultural and business requirements of each country where you plan to do business. 

While writing to introduce yourself, be clear and concise about who you are and what you’re aiming to achieve. Being pushy or presumptuous will not get you far.

Making a phone call to someone’s direct phone number, including cell phone, requires that you give four rings, if the person you’re calling hasn’t answered by then, there is a good reason. Either wait for the person to call you back or send a message saying you had called and wait.


Speaking Terms

Once you are speaking to your business associate, make your points plainly and do not interrupt when the other person is talking. Preferably, take notes and respond with preciseness. 

While visiting someone in their offices, whatever the country, be properly attired in a business suit, preferably navy blue, good shoes, a white shirt and a matching tie.

Always be a few minutes early. In some countries they’ll make you wait. Be patient and do not lose your cheerful demeanour.

Make sure to remember names when introduced. One way of doing this is by repeating the name of the person.

Handshake is the generally accepted norm in most countries. Just make sure to keep it firm and brief. 

For example when a French person shakes hands with you it’ll usually be light but firm and two shakes are usually adequate. In some nations the handshake can get too firm and ‘insistent’. Avoid this.

The printed material that you take with you, including business cards, must be of the highest quality and must be presented depending upon the country’s requirement. 

For example in most southeast asian countries and China the business card must be given with both hands while you hold the corners and thus will you accept the card, read it and put it in your breast pocket while remembering to say thank you. 

Thank you and please go a long way. Here again is the example of the French who will say “thank you” even when being given something to be thrown or put into the trash basket.

Even though verbal and written communications are comparatively less formal than say 20 years ago, be sure to keep your language good.

Keep your phone out of sight and ringer off during meetings.


Country To Country

In some countries you will open gifts in private and not in the presence of the giver. Just make sure to know the country and its customs.

Similarly, even the use of cutlery can differ. For example in Thailand you will use chopsticks only for noodles and cutlery for the rest and in France you will always keep your fork with the tines pointing down even after you’ve finished your meal.

Keeping eye contact in some countries is important while in others it has to be limited. Say, in Portugal eye contact is almost constantly maintained while having a conversation.

Promise only what you can deliver.

Be sure, whatever the distance to some countries, you will be required to visit several times before relationship building is achieved and business is to happen.

In some countries you will be expected to match drinks for a drink and in others you’ll be politely sipping your wine. Just be sure to hold your drink. Never lose control of yourself or your language.

Be genuinely interested in the conversation. Ask questions.

In most countries you will first make small talk before getting on with business. You will also make sure about the social distance and touch. While in some cultures hand gestures and touching is common, it’s unacceptable in others.

Business etiquette is all about good manners, sincerity and selling yourself first before you can sell your product or service.

More business talk here:

What You Should Know About Servant Leadership Theory

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