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Infographic: Business etiquette blunders from across the globe

If you’ve travelled overseas for a meeting, you’ll want it to go well, yet there are major business etiquette fails that Brits are making on their travels.
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We’ve looked at business etiquette in the office before, finding that things such as smelly food and talking to yourself are guaranteed to get on the wrong side of peers.

Business etiquette overseas requires more subtle things to be aware of, however.

According to online printing business Instantprint, it would be unwise to smile in a meeting in Russia, no matter how friendly you may wish to seem, as a grin suggests insecurity. Better get that poker face taken care of.

Elsewhere, leaving Europe behind for Asia and going to the trouble of buying gifts for your prospects in Hong Kong will suggest you’re trying to bribe them.

And making gestures with your hands can go awry too. In France, the okay hand sign suggests something is worthless, while it’s an insult in Greece and Brazil.

Findings from Instaprint revealed that 78 per cent of professionals aren’t up to speed on correct business etiquette overseas, while 56 per cent have found themselves in awkward moments as a result.

Offering some pearls of wisdom, Marla Harr, consultant at Business Etiquette International, said: ‘’It’s imperative for individuals who travel abroad for business to educate themselves and their teams on the proper business etiquette and accepted protocols for that country.

“Not knowing the idiosyncrasies within the culture can have unintentional misunderstandings that can be embarrassing, costly to a marketing campaign or a contract deal falling apart.”

One such embarrassing misunderstanding took place just across the pond for Teamweek CEO, Annika Helendi, whose contact in the US thought they were on a date.

‘‘A few years ago, I was visiting our customer in Los Angeles for the first time to find out how they are using our products: what they like about it and what we could improve. I scheduled several meetings via email and it seemed to me that I was very clear about my intentions to chat about the product experience,” she recalled.

“However, one gentleman I met, seemed to assume we were on a date. He insisted that he paid for everything and admitted to not even using the product. So the whole meeting was a bit awkward and I didn’t really understand the dynamic until later. I just thought that Americans are way too friendly.’’

Find out the full guide to business etiquette in the infographic below:

Infographic business etiquette

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About Author

Zen Terrelonge

Zen Terrelonge is the deputy editor of Real Business, specialising in media, innovation, technology and the digital sector. A media professional with eight years worth of experience he has worked for both startup and established publications.

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