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“One
who does not know how to smile should not be engaged in trade,” says the
Chinese proverb. Each country has its own national identity. Every nation has
its own mentality, traditions and customs, rules of conduct and even its own
business etiquette. In order, not to get into a mess when working with foreign
colleagues and partners, you need to pay attention to a lot of small things and
nuances. What is accepted here can be unacceptable in another country.

The
culture of another country is not only a barrier that has to be overcome by all
visitors, but also a shield protecting the uniqueness of each people. I
gathered the most interesting and mandatory rules of business etiquette in
European countries.

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United Kingdom

The
United Kingdom is one of the world’s economic and financial centers. British
financiers and businessmen are real perfectionists, they pay attention to every
detail in their work and demand the same from their colleagues, including
foreign ones. Even when writing letters, you must be extremely careful and
attentive to all formalities. Punctuality is almost the main quality that a
person who has business in the UK should have. Delay is completely
unacceptable, and the business meeting itself is usually appointed well in
advance, in a few days. British humor is one of the national symbols, it is
present even in a business environment. If you do not understand the joke or
ironic remark of the interlocutor, then do not focus on this attention, you
need to smile and continue the conversation. Do not forget that Britain is a
multinational country, and calling a Scot or an Irish an Englishman is a
dangerous step. Representatives of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland,
sometimes even the word “british” touches, so it must be expressed
extremely correctly and do not affect the topic of nations within the United
Kingdom. After the end of the working day, it is not accepted to discuss work
matters, even being with a colleague at a dinner in a restaurant or at a family
dinner at his house. Talking about work after work is a bad form. British, in
addition, to professionalism in all areas, the British are known for their
conservatism, which is also reflected in the rules of the dress code: you do
not need to come to jeans and a T-shirt to meet with partners in the office,
and in a sports suit for a dinner party.

Residents
of the UK – people are restrained and balanced. When talking, avoid unnecessary
emotions and expressive statements. Even the neutral expression “I’m quite
pleased” can be perceived as an extremely enthusiastic reaction.

Germany

The
calculating and thrifty Germans are known as the most pedantic and hardworking
specialists. Businessmen from Germany are very reserved and always hold on
formally, even if long-standing friendships have developed between partners: it
is customary to refer to the surname and the “you”. If the
communication is in English, then you can also apply by name.

Not
only working, but even personal life, they are painted not by the hour, but by
the minute, so any delay is perceived as an insult. If the circumstances have
developed so that the delay is unavoidable, it is better to call your German
colleague as soon as possible and explain everything by apologizing. Business
in Germany is preferred to be carried out and planned in advance and
unhurriedly. The haste of every German is suspicious. Therefore, with a joint
project or transaction, you should not rush, but slowly and thoughtfully work through
all the details.

Lunch
in Germany is an important necessity. Many workers, students and even
schoolchildren go home or at a cafe in the middle of the day to have lunch.

Therefore, most business meetings are often held at lunch, and dinner, in turn,
is taken with the family. Private life and work are clearly divided: in
Germany, business partners are rarely invited to a family dinner, as is often the
case in the UK or France. However, if the invitation is received, it is
necessary to bring a small gift to the house: a bottle of expensive wine or a
box of chocolates.

Do
not be offended if a German colleague does not treat anyone with his breakfast
brought from home, or closes his office right in front of his nose: it is not
customary to violate personal space and share things in Germany.

When
referring to a person it is important to mention his academic degrees, titles
and so on. Personal achievements here have a lot of weight and the fact that a
partner at work knows about this, will show him from the very best side.

And
of course, in conversations that do not involve work, the themes of World War
II should be avoided. For the Germans, this issue is extremely painful.

France

The
French are famous for their sense of tact and style, they are real neat at
everything, including in work, and in business. Even the word “etiquette”
comes from French. Failure to follow simple rules of conduct at the table or
during communication causes a negative reaction. And the appearance of a
business partner and colleagues should be flawless, so before a business
meeting, you should carefully choose a wardrobe. Punctuality in France is attentive, but not as strictly as
in Germany or in the UK. Allowed to be late for 10-15 minutes, but no more.

French
Meetings are almost always appointed at breakfast, lunch or dinner: no wonder
France is considered a gourmet country. An important detail: working matters
are discussed only after the drinks are served.

 

At
the first meeting with a French colleague, you must give him your business
card. On it, whenever possible, it is necessary to indicate all personal
achievements: the French respectfully treat a person with ranks and titles.

The
French are immensely proud of their culture and their language, so they prefer
to speak even foreigners in French. If the interlocutor does not know the
language, he should learn at least a couple of phrases, turn to a colleague in
French and ask permission to switch to English. This formality is of great
importance.

French
businessmen are very scrupulous. Therefore, at a meeting or a deal you need to
prepare for the fact that the partner will ask a lot of questions and begin to
figure out even the most minor details.

A
big plus for a foreigner will be the knowledge of French culture. If the
partner in conversation on an abstract topic can talk about Matisse, Hugo or
Debussy, the French colleague will be flattered, because the art of France is a
subject of national pride.

Italy

Italian
businessmen, contrary to the popular opinion of the nation, are extremely prim
and formal.

At
a meeting, everyone address to each other by a surname and shake hands.

Handshakes are exchanged even with women.

Like
the French, Italians are very sensitive to their language, so even the first
official letter with a proposal for partnership is better to write in Italian.

Italy
– the birthplace of fashion. Therefore, a good brand suit or dress, watches,
ornaments and even an expensive fountain pen can arrange an Italian colleague
for a foreigner. At the same time, there are no strict restrictions on the
color scheme in the dress code, as in the same UK: a suit for meeting with
Italian partners can be in light colors, and a dress – in a bright shade.

Italians
the business meeting, which is usually held at dinner, begins with a secular
conversation. The topics that Italians like to discuss: art, architecture,
football, family and travel. Punctuality does not matter much, so a meeting can
be scheduled even in a few hours, and can continue until late at night. The
Italians are unhurried and often late.

Ireland

Despite
its proximity to the UK, Ireland has its own business etiquette, opposite to
its neighbors.

Too
official clothes are not welcome here, so you can dress for a meeting more
informally: dark jeans, a shirt or polo, but there must be a jacket.

Business
meetings and negotiations are often appointed in bars, so do not be surprised
if an Irish business partner is waiting for his foreign colleague with a beer
mug behind the bar.

Irish
are not too obligatory: they are often late and cancel appointments. But to
express displeasure in this regard is a bad tone.

Finland, Norway, Sweden

The
rules of business etiquette in the northern countries of Europe are almost the
same.

Finns,
Norwegians and Swedes are reserved and not too emotional. They never talk about
family and personal life. But at the same time in communication often addressed
by name and by “you”. Northerners love simplicity and appreciate
straightforwardness. They are reliable, their words never disagree with
actions. Scandinavians do not tolerate boasting and flattery.

Scandinavia
Most of business meetings are appointed in the sauna. This is a national
Scandinavian tradition. After the sauna meeting is moved to a restaurant or
cafe.

If
the partner invites a foreign colleague for a family dinner, you must
necessarily present a bottle of wine and a bouquet of flowers for the wife of
the owner of the house.

Spain

Spaniards
are energetic, hardworking, initiative and resolute. Business in Spain is
conducted confidently and quickly. The same quality of Spanish businessmen
appreciate their foreign partners.

Spanish
colleagues show interest not only in their work and position, but also in the
identity of their partners. Therefore, at a business meeting, you need to be
prepared for personal inquiries.

Spaniards
are not at all punctual, often late and do not always keep promises. When
concluding deals and contracts, one must be as persistent as possible and
negotiate all the details and obligations of the parties.

Do
not forget about the traditional Spanish siesta, especially in relation to
small cities: from 14 to 16 hours, meetings are usually not appointed, this
time is for recreation. With partners the Spaniards meet only during the
dinner, which starts rather late, around 21.00.

In
clothing, the Spaniards are democratic and do not impose strict requirements on
foreign colleagues.

When in Rome do as the
romans do

Each
country and its culture are unique. When dealing with foreigners, one must at
least be aware of cultural and linguistic barriers and differences and treat
with respect to any nation and country. Compliance with even the elementary
rules of etiquette will preserve international partnerships and work all over
the world without restrictions.

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