Afghans usually sit with legs crossed; however, pointing the soles of the feet towards someone else is considered impolite. During meals, Afghans generally sit on the floor around a mat on which food is served in a communal dish. Food is eaten with the fingers of the right hand or a piece of nan (unleavened bread). Any business discussions occur after refreshments. Guests do not bring gifts.
Albanians greet with a handshake. They often move their hands and heads when conversing. Visiting is considered a joyful event and unplanned visits are common.
In Algeria, Arabic is the official language. Greetings are often cordial and genuine, usually a handshake and an embrace (between members of the same sex). Algerians frequently use hand gestures during conversations. It is considered impolite to point directly at someone. Men and women tend to socialize separately. During non-social visits, people generally spend little time on small talk and usually shift the conversation to the intended subject.
When negotiating with business associates in Argentina, remember to be punctual for meetings, but expect most local businessmen to arrive five to 10 minutes late. The most popular topic of discussion is sports, particularly soccer. The national language is Spanish, but English is spoken and widely understood. A few words in Spanish are appreciated, but do not attempt Spanish at a business meeting unless you are fluent.
Australians generally don't like to talk business during leisure hours, and they avoid making class distinctions. For example, when riding alone in a taxi, it's considered polite to sit in the front seat with the driver. If an Australian invites you to afternoon tea, expect just that, a cup of tea. However, an invitation to tea usually will include dinner.
In Austria, it is impolite to begin eating before others are ready. Also, punctuality at business meetings is expected.
The official language is Arabic although English is widely used in business and banking circles. Handshakes are common and may last the length of the conversation. It is generally unacceptable for a man to greet a woman unless it is part of business protocol. Bahrainis often invite relatives, friends and foreigners to their home. Guest usually bring a gift to the host, such as sweets or flowers.
When introduced to a man, it is customary to shake hands with him, while women may merely nod. A standard Hindu greeting is performed with the palms held in prayer. Most business people speak English. It's also considered polite to arrive strictly on time for both business and social engagements. Use the right hand for eating and don't forget that the "thumbs up" gesture is considered rude.
When dining with business associates in Belgium, relax and enjoy yourself. Meals are an important social and cultural event. Most Belgians are thrifty and do not like waste; finishing one's food is expected.
Belizeans are informal and friendly when greeting one another. In formal situations, people address others by title but in informal settings they use first names. To hail a taxi or bus, people in Belize move the hand up and down before the vehicle passes. When visiting, most hosts will offer a refreshment. In those areas without refrigeration people might offer fresh coconut.
In Bolivia, scheduled events begin late since arriving on time is not expected. Bolivians maintain little personal space and tend to stand close during conversations. Bolivians often use their hands and facial expressions to communicate. Eye contact is considered essential and avoiding another's eyes shows lack of trust, suspicion or shyness. In restaurants, the tip is usually included but leaving a little extra (up to 5%) is considered polite.
In Brazil, remember that the official language is Portuguese, not Spanish. Brazilians take soccer very seriously, and consider their national team to be the best in the world. In business negotiations, Brazilians enjoy conversation, jokes and getting to know each other. This is part of business negotiations, so you should take time to enjoy.
In Bulgaria, 'yes' is indicated by shaking the head from side to side and 'no' is expressed with one or two nods. In conversation, Bulgarians generally do not use hand gestures but they often touch each other. During meals, napkins are placed on the table, not on the lap. Toasting is done at the beginning and throughout the meal. People maintain eye contact when clinking glasses during the toast.
Remember that Canada is, by law, a bilingual country. In fact, about 25 percent of the population considers French their first language. Nearly all government employees in Canada are bilingual.
When meeting someone for the first time in Chile, a firm handshake with direct eye contact is an appropriate greeting. However, close friends and relatives greet each other with an "abrazo"(ah-brat-zo), a combination hand shake and hug, often supplemented with a kiss for women.
When dealing with business associates in China, remember that the Chinese people place emphasis on trust and mutual connections. Always use a person's proper title and expect a slight bow or handshake upon an introduction. Maintain distance when speaking, avoid open displays of affection, and never appear loud or overly aggressive. Tropical or lightweight clothing is acceptable in the summer in northern China and for most of the year in southern China.
During conversations, Colombians tend to be expressive with their hands and face. Goods manners while eating is important to Colombians. In a group, it is considered impolite to take anything to eat without offering it to others first. Eating on the streets is considered improper.
In Costa Rica, socializing is an important part of a business relationship. While lunch is a time to discuss business, dinner is usually reserved for entertaining guests.
Czechs do not visit one another unannounced. Czechs remove their shoes when entering a home and leave them in the entryway. Invited guests usually bring flowers for the host.
Danish is the official language but English is widely spoken and understood. Although generally informal, Danes shake hands when introduced to strangers, at the end of business meetings and on formal occasions. When visiting, it is important to arrive on time. Danes also bring a small gift for the host such as flowers, wine or chocolate. In restaurants, a service charge is included in the bill, but some people leave a small tip.
To hail a taxi, one wags a finger or fingers (depending on the number of passengers) in the direction one is going. At a restaurant, one will clap to request the check. To Dominicans, privacy is unimportant. Hosts offer visitors something to drink and invite them to eat if mealtime is near. It is not considered impolite to refuse such an offer.
When negotiating in Ecuador, professional courtesy is extremely important. It is unwise to appear overly familiar with Ecuadorians. A handshake is acceptable when meeting for the first time. Women who are close friends may kiss each other in greeting, while men will embrace. Many visitors have trouble breathing when they first arrive in Ecuador due to the high altitude, therefore it is advisable to relax on your first day and acclimate yourself.
In Egypt, English is widely spoken. The Egyptian work week is Saturday through Thursday, and Friday is a day of rest in the Muslim culture. Social engagements are usually held late in the day. Dinners may not be served until 10:30 p.m. or later.
Summer clothing is suitable all year round because of the warm climate. Business people often wear suits. A brief, firm handshake is the usual formal greeting. It is considered impolite to point directly at people. However, pointing to animals or objects is acceptable. To hail a taxi, one points at an angle to the street.
In general, the English are a reserved people. A handshake is the most common form of greeting among the English. Manners are important. When visiting, guests usually bring a gift such as chocolate or flowers. Sending a thank you note is also considered appropriate. The English eat continental style, with fork in the left hand and the knife in the right.
In Fiji, it is customary to introduce yourself with a handshake, a smile and raised eyebrows. When socializing with business associates, a drink of kava may be offered as a sign of goodwill. Kava is made from the root of a plant in the pepper family. Refusal to drink may be seen as an insult.
In Finland, taking a sauna is a national pastime, an offer to join your host in the sauna represents an honor or a special occasion. At meals, the guest of honor is expected to offer a toast following the meal, so it is a good idea to save your wine until then. Use caution when driving: seatbelt and drunk driving laws are strictly enforced, and moose and reindeer are common roadway hazards.
The French are very proud of their culture, heritage and way of life. They expect visitors to have some knowledge and appreciation of the French culture. The French tend to dress fashionably. Professional attire tends to be formal. Table manners are considered important. One does not place the elbows on the table. Fruit is peeled with a knife and eaten with a fork. It is polite to bring a gift to the host such as chocolate or flowers. Foreign visitors should not bring wine as a gift unless certain of its high quality.
When doing business in Germany, remember that business people there respect order and discipline. Arrive on time for meetings and social events, and answer all correspondence and inquiries promptly. When telephoning, Germans generally avoid small talk, and proceed straight to the business at hand.
When dealing with business associates in Greece, you should give your business card to everyone you meet. When you want to say "hello," don't wave your palm "American style"; instead, raise your index finger with your palm closed.
Grenadians are considered to be among the friendliest people in the Caribbean. They always offer guests a refreshment and it is considered impolite to refuse. Grenadians have a passion for the sport of cricket. Each town has a cricket team and boys begin playing at age ten.
In Guatemala it is considered polite to speak softly, and the use of titles is very important. Don't call out someone's name in public. Instead, make a short hissing sound to get someone's attention.
When dealing with business associates in Haiti, remember that although punctuality is not strictly adhered to, an early arrival is considered rude. Generally, people shake hands in greeting. It is recommended you keep a supply of business cards on hand. These should be printed in both English and French, the Haitian native language. Casual warm weather clothing is accepted, but business meetings usually call for a conservative suit.
In Honduras, individual needs are considered more important than schedules, so being late for appointments or social events is common. A handshake is an appropriate greeting for men and urban women. Hand and body language are important forms of communication. Visiting is common and often people visit unannounced. Hosts almost always offer guests refreshments; refusing is considered impolite.
In doing business in Hong Kong, respect is the watchword. You must show respect to gain respect. Trustworthiness is a point of pride, so you may want to apologize when asking for a written contract, even though it is recognized as standard practice. Also, avoid the colors blue and white in your presentation materials, as these represent death and mourning.
Adults greet each other with a firm handshake. When addressing someone, it is polite to use the person's professional title with his or her surname. When visiting, guests usually bring a gift of flowers or candy. Hands are kept on the table but not the elbows. Napkins are kept on the table throughout the meal.
When doing business in Iceland, remember that it is considered bad form to discuss the weather. Expect natives of Iceland to greet each other using first names; visitors should use last names. Tipping is not allowed, since service charges are included on all bills. Appointments and punctuality are not emphasized in Iceland, because a strong tradition of "dropping in" prevails.
When invited to a meal in India, guests should offer a gift of flowers, candy or fruit to their host. At some social gatherings, guests are adorned with garlands of flowers. These should be removed and carried in the hand as an expression of humility. Indians are often too polite to say no to an invitation; if they cannot attend, they will more likely say "I'll try."
In Indonesia, never touch another person's head, for this is thought to be where the spirit resides. Although handshaking is becoming more accepted, avoid using your left hand to pass or receive anything, for it is considered unclean and will be taken as an insult. Negotiating is everything in Indonesia, never pressure or hurry, and be prepared to bargain. Punctuality is expected. Presenting your business card is essential to gaining respect and acknowledgement.
The Irish always toast their visitors, and consider refusal to drink a bit of an insult. So if you must refuse, always say it's for health reasons. Make business appointments in advance, but keep in mind that the Irish are not very time conscious. In Ireland the official language is Gaelic, but it is never used in business. Avoid discussing religion or politics.
Hebrew is Israel's official language but English is widely used, especially in commerce. Israelis tend to be informal. They usually address each other by first name. Israelis love to visit friends and family and may even drop by unannounced. Handshakes are common. Additional contact depends on one's ethnic origin. In Israel, the work week is Sunday through Thursday. On Fridays, businesses operate until 2 p.m.
Meals in Italy are generally unhurried, and can last up to four hours. During the meal, it is impolite to put your hands in your lap. At the table, it is also impolite to stretch at the table, even if the meal is over.
English is the official language of Jamaica. Jamaicans are generally outgoing and like to have lively conversations. In casual situations, Jamaicans commonly use nicknames. To hail a taxi, one keeps the hand down and waves. Good table manners are considered an important social refinement. Cricket and soccer are very popular in Jamaica.
In business dealings in Japan, a well-groomed, conservative look for men and women is advisable. Avoid trendy hairstyles, and heavy makeup and jewelry. Always treat a business card carefully, never bend it or write on it, as this will be considered a direct insult. If your host is quiet, do not be concerned; silence is an ordinary part of conversation. in Japan, a smile can mean that a person is uncomfortable or sad. People have observed that Japanese might smile on sad occasions, such as a funeral, and find this confusing. To the Japanese, it is perfectly acceptable. To an American, this is strange.
In Kenya, it is customary to shake hands when first meeting people and when taking your leave. After English, Swahili is the most common language. When invited to someone's home, do not bring flowers, as they are usually used to express condolences.
When dining with business associates in Kuwait, be sure to bring your appetite. To show proper appreciation of a meal, you must eat mightily.
Lithuanians are often reserved and sincere. A handshake is almost always used with professional contacts. It is impolite to talk with hands in the pockets. Lithuanians are proud of their heritage but not of the Soviet period. Drinking vodka (for men only) is common during most social visits. Guests are expected to be punctual.
In addition to the native language, Luxembourgish, French and German have official status. Men wear suits to work and women wear dresses more than pants. Dinner guests often bring a gift of chocolate or flowers for the host. A cocktail is usually served before dinner. Luxembourg enjoys the highest standard of living in the world.
When conducting business in Malaysia, never point or summon another person with your index finger. Also, avoid displaying the sole of your shoe, or using your foot to gesture or move objects. Always use your right hand for greeting others, taking or passing food, or presenting business cards or gifts as use of the left hand is offensive. Remember that the work week in some Malaysian states runs from Saturday through Wednesday, with businesses remaining closed on Thursday and Friday in observance of the Muslim day of worship.
The Mauritian people are family oriented and religious. English is the official language. It is not used much in conversations but used almost exclusively in business and government. It is not proper to receive gifts with the left hand. One uses the right hand or both hands. Guests are not expected to bring gifts except for a formal lunch or dinner.
In Mexico, remember that the main meal of the day is served between 1 and 4 p.m. If you are bringing flowers to your host, avoid the color purple as it is commonly seen at funerals. When making purchases, bargaining is natural and expected.
The official language is Arabic although French is widely used in business, government and higher education. Moroccan culture is rooted in Islam. Moroccans pass items with the right hand or both hands but never the left hand. Moroccans are gracious and warm hosts. Social visits can last for hours. It is considered impolite to refuse refreshments offered by the host. Mint tea is often offered to friends and business associates for short visits.
The Nepalese are religious, family oriented and modest. It is considered rude to touch another person's head or shoulders. Men do not touch women in public. If food or flowers are touched at a bazaar they are considered impure. People usually eat with the hands or a spoon. Food is not shared from the same plate or utensils.
Don't refer to The Netherlands as "Holland," since this refers to only two of the country's twelve provinces. When a Dutch associate circles his finger around his ear, he isn't saying that you are crazy, but rather, that you have a phone call.
When doing business in New Zealand, prior business appointments are advisable, and visitors should try to be a bit early. Both English and Maori are the official languages in New Zealand, but the Maori language is used primarily for Maori religious ceremonies or other special occasions.
Because of the warm climate, Nicaraguans offer guests a cool drink. Refusing a drink is considered a discourtesy. Hosts expect their guests to eat what is served. Guests are expected to praise the quality of the meal. Baseball is the national sport.
When in Nigeria, do not be surprised if your host sits or stands very close by you. Personal space between members of the same sex is much closer than in North America. Although English is the official language, there are 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria, and each has its own distinct language.
In Northern Ireland, business people tend to dress conservatively. English is the official language but Gaelic is becoming more popular. Although Northern Ireland is part of the UK, its people are Irish and not English. However, they also consider themselves British. It is customary for dinner guests to bring a small gift for the hostess. People often socialize for a while before dinner is served. It is inappropriate to discuss religion or politics.
In North Korea, greetings and introductions are rather formal. Handshakes are common among men but a bow is most common. Sitting in a relaxed manner is considered an insult. Exposing the soles of one's feet is improper. People give and receive gifts with both hands. Eating with one's fingers is considered impolite, but slurping soup and noodles is accepted.
When meeting with business associates in Norway, be advised that Norwegians are very direct in business and do not waste time on a lot of pleasantries. Also punctuality is very important.
When in Pakistan, always accept invitations to tea or dinner, to refuse is quite rude. Be discreet about taking photographs, especially of native women and religious sites. Remove your shoes before entering a temple or mosque, and don't be offended if you attract attention as open staring is not considered rude.
Most citizens are well-informed on topics relating to national and international political issues. Spanish is the official language, but many speak English as well. Panamanians enjoy visiting with others in their home. When invited to dinner, the guest is not expected to bring a gift. Politeness is important and chivalry is common. Eye contact is important during conversations.
Paraguayans enjoy visiting one another. Guests are not expected to be punctual. It is common for guests to bring a gift of beer or wine. Not finishing one's meal is considered impolite to the host. In restaurants, service is included in the bill and a tip is not expected. Paraguayans are soft-spoken people; they do not shout to get another's attention. Soccer is a popular spectator sport and volleyball is the most common participation sport.
Peruvians are strong willed and nationalistic. Men and women shake hands when meeting and parting. While punctuality is not very important for Peruvians, international visitors are expected to be on time. Guests are not expected to bring gifts, however dinner guests often bring fruit or wine for the host. It is polite to show concern for the health of the host's family. The average Peruvian workweek is 48 hours, one of the longest in the world.
In the Philippines, don't use a loud voice, and any kind of criticism should be expressed with the utmost tact. When giving gifts, don't be surprised if the package is not opened in front of you; it is more common to wait until after the gift-giver leaves.
When dealing with business associates in Poland, don't use a person's first name until he or she does. The Polish consider using first names a sign of friendship, and often celebrate this event over a drink. If you are a woman, don't be surprised if the men kiss your hand each time you meet. Coffee is in very short supply, so unless it is served, don't ask for it. When a Pole flicks his finger against his neck, he is inviting you to join him for a drink of vodka.
When doing business in Portugal, know that it is customary for men to greet each other with the "abraço" (ah-bra-so), an enthusiastic hugging and mutual slapping of backs. You should avoid making appointments or phone calls betwen noon and 3 p.m., when most businesses close down. If you are invited to dinner, do not feel that you have to bring a gift, but you can return the favor later by taking your hosts to a local restaurant.
Spanish and English are the official languages of Puerto Rico. Dinner guests are not expected to bring a gift; however a host may appreciate a gift of flowers, fruit or candy. Baseball is the most popular sport.
In Romania, you should always shake hands when being introduced to a man, but be aware that the custom of kissing a woman's hand still exists. Romania is a very punctual society, so be on time for both personal and professional engagements. The English, German and French languages are equally used in business transactions.
When meeting, Russians shake hands firmly. Pointing with the index finger is considered impolite but it is frequently done. Russians enjoy giving and receiving gifts. Although not expected, guests usually bring the host a gift of flowers, food or vodka. If friends open a bottle of vodka, they usually drink until the bottle is empty. Russians prefer to have social interaction before discussing business. Doing business over the telephone without meeting the prospective client or partner is ineffective.
In Samoa, formal greetings are usually given before any business meeting begins. It is customary to remove one's shoes before entering a home and even though fingers are used when eating in a Samoan home, visitors will usually be provided with utensils.
When visiting a business colleague in Saudi Arabia, do not be startled if he holds your hand while you walk. This is simply a sign of friendship. Also, when you arrive for an appointment, remember that other business people may be present and that several meetings may be happening simultaneously.
When in Scotland, remember to refer to the people as "Scots"or "Scotsmen." The word "Scotch" refers only to a drink. Never call a kilt a skirt, and avoid making jokes about this formal Scottish attire, which is often worn by both men and women. The Scots tend to be reserved people; handshakes are generally light, and hugging is not common, even among close friends.
Singapore is a city-state; there are no rural areas and no other cities. The official languages are Malay, Chinese, Tamil and English. Singaporeans have a strong work ethic. It is considered impolite for the bottom of the foot to point to someone. Touching another person's head is also impolite. Laws regarding littering, jay walking or drug enforcement are strictly enforced. It is wise for foreigners to carry prescriptions for all medications to avoid trouble with the authorities.
Shaking hands is the most common form of greeting. Chewing gum is not acceptable during social interaction. An invited guest should bring a gift of flowers to the host. Visitors should not overly admire anything in the home since the item might be given to them, even if it is a family heirloom. Restaurants do not provide water unless requested. Most businesses are closed on Sundays.
Slovenes are proud of their country and heritage. In conversation, people maintain a distance from each other. Slovenes do not admire people who are late, untruthful, rude or xenophobic. Good manners are important. It is considerate for invited guests to bring a small gift to the host. A toast of wine usually precedes the meal. English is spoken in many tourist areas.
When doing business in South Africa, remember that visiting is an important activity. It is best to arrange visits in advance, but unannounced visits among good friends are common. Be aware that in some ethnic groups it is not polite to gesture with the left hand. Tipping in restaurants is discretionary.
Korean is the official language. English is taught in school and many people have a good understanding of it. Giving gifts as a means of obtaining favors is common especially in the workplace. A bow followed by a handshake is the usual greeting between men. Eye contact is important while conversing.
When dealing with business associates in Spain, try to make business appointments between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Most business people take care of appointments in the morning and do paperwork in the afternoon. Remember that everything from businesses to schools closes from 1 to 4 p.m. for the siesta. Never try to discuss business at the first meeting. Spaniards regard the impersonal efficiency often associated with Americans as very unpleasant. They place great value on knowing people as individuals, so be prepared to receive questions about your background, education and interests.
Sri Lanka, originally called Ceylon, has a strong British influence. English greetings are suitable and English is still commonly spoken. Sri Lankans are very hospitable and courteous. It is common practice for them to offer tea at the beginning of a meeting. Don't be confused when negotiating with Sri Lankans, since to them, a nod of the head means no, and shaking it means yes.
In Sweden, when talking to an older person, you should refer to him or her in the third person, and be aware that compliments to people whom you have just met are regarded as insincere. Note that Swedes answer the phone by giving either their last name or phone number. Since June, July and August are popular vacation months, you should avoid planning business meetings during that time.
Switzerland has four official languages: German, French, Italian and Romansch. The Swiss place high value on cleanliness and orderliness. Visits are planned in advance. Dinner guests usually bring a gift of chocolates, flowers or wine. General business hours are from 8:00 a.m. to noon and from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Banks close at 4:00 p.m.
When visiting Tahiti on business, remember that Tahitians put a high value on personal relations. The lifestyle in Tahiti is relaxed and time is more flexible than in many industrialized countries.
In Taiwan, offer your business card to all present at a meeting. When dining out, it's polite to offer to pay, but expect the offer to be declined. The Western habit of "going Dutch" is considered ungracious.
In Thailand, the traditional greeting is a bow for men and a curtsy for women. It is customary to remove one's shoes when entering a private home. Retail shops are open seven days a week and bargaining is expected. Shorts are not appropriate dress in public places. The Thai deeply respect the King and Queen. It is illegal to write or say anything offensive about them.
Tunisians usually have tea and conversations before discussing business. Tunisia has a shortened work week for July and August when most business operate Monday through Saturday 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Invited guests may bring a gift of fruit or chocolate but never alcohol.
In Turkey, when addressing a man, always use his last name followed by "bey," and with a women, use her last name followed by "hanim." If someone raises his chin, shuts his eyes, and tilts his head back, he's not taking a nap, this is the Turkish gesture for saying "no." Don't plan a business trip to Turkey during June, July or August, since most business people vacation during these months.
Ukrainians welcome both expected and unexpected guests. However, visits should be arranged in advance. A gift of flowers or candy is appropriate for the host. Guests should remove footwear before entering a private home.
United Arab Emirates
When visiting your host in the United Arab Emirates, remember that gift giving is appreciated but not expected. Do avoid giving wine or other alcohol as a gift.
When in Uruguay, it is customary to greet strangers when passing on city streets. However, rural residents tend to be quite friendly to strangers. When invited to an associate's home for dinner, be sure to send chocolate or flowers beforehand, and avoid bringing up the subject of politics with your host.
A firm handshake is a common greeting among acquaintances and strangers. Venezuelans use their hands to communicate or emphasize a point. It is polite to maintain eye contact throughout a conversation. When a visitor arrives at a home or business, a small cup of strong thick coffee is usually offered. Banking hours are usually 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 to 4:30 p.m. Bottled water is safest to drink.
When doing business in Vietnam, it is helpful to know that the work week is six days, from Monday to Saturday.
The Welsh do not consider themselves English but some think of themselves as British. A firm handshake is a common greeting among strangers and acquaintances. Whispering is considered impolite. Pointing and touching others should be avoided. Rugby is the national sport. Banks are open from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Stores are closed on Sundays.
In Zambia, handshaking is common practice, and you should always use a person's professional name if known. Be sure to make prior appointments, but don't be surprised if the engagement is broken without advance notice. You should avoid discussing such sensitive topics as local politics or economics, but most Zambians do like to discuss international politics.
English is the official language and is spoken by most educated people and in urban areas. Direct eye contact, especially in rural areas, is considered rude. Refusing offers of food or refreshments is not polite. Banks close at 2:00 p.m. on most days and at noon on Wednesday.
An old Chinese proverb says...
"You get sick by what you put in your mouth, but you can be hurt by what comes out of your mouth."
"Every culture enjoys some form of humor. But, humor has difficulty crossing cultural boundaries because what is humorous in one country is often not humorous in another."