How to deal with cultural differences on your business tripDealing with cultural differences in business

Travelling for work can be fun, but it can also come with a lot of stress at some times. Like all travellers, business people worry about losing their luggage and delayed flights, but one of their biggest worries is cultural differences. Luckily, by doing some research in advance, there are ways to cope with these concerns.

  • Addressing your business partners and co-workers

    Find out what’s most common in the country you’re about to visit: do you greet your business partner(s) with a handshake, a pat on the shoulder, a kiss on the cheek? Do you call someone by their first name or not? First impressions are everything and a little research can go a long way.
  • Punctuality

    Punctuality is of utmost importance in some countries, such as England, while arriving 10 minutes late is absolutely normal to other cultures, such as the French one. If you want to successfully do business in other countries than your own, make sure you keep the etiquette rules of being on time in mind.
  • Attire

    What you should wear to your meeting also depends on the country (and the company, of course). Should you suit up or do you opt for a business smart outfit? In Germany and France, for instance, it’s even considered rude to take off your suit jacket during a meeting. So look into it beforehand!
  • Conversational manners

    In some countries, it’s seen as impolite to start talking shop right away. In that case, your business associates will want to make some small talk at the beginning of the meeting. Other cultures are all work and no play… Gather intel and make the meeting a successful one.

Don’t forget to remain sensitive to language issues. English is commonly used in international meetings, but often isn’t the mother language of most participants. It can be helpful to some if you speak slowly and – most of all – if you avoid metaphors and idioms that may not be clear to your business associates.