Advice on international business etiquette

When doing business internationally, you shouldn’t focus on just selling your products and services. To be successful, you must cultivate relationships with the people you work with. To help you out, here are some of the areas you should pay attention to when interacting with people abroad:

Gender roles

You will interact with people from different industries who have different beliefs. To avoid uncomfortable situations, take your time to understand the appropriate gender etiquette. In most cases, gender roles are about personal boundaries and physical contact with men and women.

If you are doing business in Arab countries, be aware that Arab women are not allowed to shake hands with men. If you are a woman traveling to these countries, be careful as it can be uncomfortable when you are reaching out and men are not shaking your hand.


While time is of the essence globally, different countries have different levels of tolerance. In China and Japan, punctuality is key, and if you’re late for even a minute, the people you’re dating will leave. In India, your companions won’t be too offended if you are a little late, but you shouldn’t overdo it.

If you are doing business in England, business professionals will ask you to show up on time or even a little earlier. In France, punctuality does not matter, and professionals will consider you “on time” even if you are ten minutes late.

Dress code

This is crucial because it determines how people see you. Just like the weather, professional dress preference varies from place to place. In China and Japan, street dress is formal. You must wear a suit and tie to all business meetings. In the United States, the business environment is less formal; hence, you can wear casual dress and be considered fine. In France, you have to be formal, well cut and fashionable. It is in France that you are.

Personal space

Personal space varies from genre to genre and also the way you know yourself. In China, the formal way to go about it is to shake hands. You shouldn’t make someone happy with a kiss or a hug. In France, men sometimes greet women with a kiss, but many women reach out if they prefer a handshake. In England, personal touches such as kisses and hugs are reserved for close friends and family; therefore, plan for a certain amount of personal space.

Business gifts

The distribution of gifts varies from culture to culture. In most Asian countries, giveaways are tolerated and strongly encouraged. In fact, associates will expect you to bring a gift. When you present the gift, always wrap it. Remember that the value of the gift is less important than the thoughts you put on it.

While giveaways are encouraged in Asian countries, the culture is very prevalent in Western countries. Most of these countries consider a gift to be a bribe.


These are the international business etiquette tips you should consider when doing international business. Always go through them before visiting a country you don’t know.

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