Business Etiquette Affects Your Bottom Line In International Business

Business culture refers to the accepted norms and values and rational behavior of groups. It’s “How we do things!” Countries as well as groups within the county may operate differently according to beliefs, values and activities attitudes.

Culture is very important in business and has an impact on the strategic direction of business. Culture influences management, decisions and all business functions from accounting to production. Don’t just think in terms of the national culture but also in business think of meetings, negotiation, formalities, social media use, internships and work placements hierarchy.

In Business culture there should a conscious attention to behavior, ethics, and etiquette visions, working style, beliefs and habits.


Lets look at three areas for business:

  • Europe - In the UK- they don’t like embarrassment and really like promptness. It may take a longer time for them to get warm and so friendship may take a longer time to develop. However, do not criticize and politeness will get you far.

    Taboos : hugging, kissing


Do shaking hands and be on time, punctuality is as important as politeness

  • China - Who you know will get you far. Introductions then are crucial. When accepting business cards take them with both hands and handle with great care. Do not write or bend someone’s card and if they are sitting put it on the table. Learn the art of small talk about you and your family. It’s very important. Again, no hugging, in fact you can shake hands or just nod. Gift giving is important, but be careful that you give to all or none, group gifts are wonderful, but remember no bribing.

  • Africa is huge and has many local cultural differences. It too is driven by relationships. The Chinese business culture is similar to the African culture in many ways. You will notice the Chinese interactions are friendly b because the Chines have been doing business there with American’s as late comers. The Chinese will also treat Africans as peers and do not act as if they are parents so the Africans show them equal respect. Africans are loyal to brands and community is important. If you require an interpreter it is probably best to have a local one so you can also learn local customs.


Although you will find that each country has a number of individual characteristics, be careful about time zones and weather. When traveling internationally for business you should check the local sports teams and sports of the culture and at least be prepared to comment on them. It shows an awareness and respect  

When in Rome do as the Romans, try to fit in with their business culture

Other tips:

  • No matter where you are never forget to say ‘Thank You’ and don’t discuss the meeting straight away as soon you step out of the meeting room.

  • Communication is crucial, especially with interpreters and language barriers. Some may speak loud, like Germans or soft like Japanese, but you want to hear and be heard.

  • Make sure you Turn off the phone in a meeting to avoid distraction. Seek to understand before criticizing and be in control of your temper.

  • Your body language is watched so know what it communicates.

  • Be honest about whatever you are saying as you never know who is connected and will be making decisions.

  • All of the cultural difference and know will have an impact on your profitability so do your research of the culture.

  • Before launching a marketing campaign, always conduct research to become aware of your target audience since customer demand, decision making, gender views and ideologies greatly vary in cultures.