When conducting business abroad or in the United Status with someone of another culture, knowledge of certain rules of business and social etiquette is important. Etiquette refers to manners and behavior considered acceptable in social and business situations. Protocol refers to customs and regulations dealing with diplomatic etiquette and courtesies expectedin official dealings (such as negotiations) with persons in various cultures.
Being sensitive to cultural variations when making introductions will ensure that your first encounter with a person from another country leaves a positive impression. First impressions are made only once but are remembered for a long time. The procedure for making introductions varies from cultureto culture. First names are used almost immediately by people from the United States and England; however, introductions are more formal in some other cultures. Titles are used when introducing people in Germany and Italy; they often indicate the person’s profession or educational level. Germans always address each other as “Herr Guenther” or “Frau Kurr” in and out of the office, reserving firstnames for close friends and family.
Remember that in some cultures, such as the Chinese, the surname comes first and the given name last. Ching Lo Chang would be addressed as Mr. Ching.
BUSINESS CARD EXCHANGE
An important aspect of business protocol knows the proper procedure for exchanging business cards. Because all business contacts require a business card, the admonition of awell-known credit card company, “Don’t leave home without it,” applies.
Although most U.S. businesspeople carry business cards, they do not always exchange them when meeting unless there is a reason to contact the person later. Rank, title, and profession are taken seriously in some cultures, so it is important to include your position and titles or degrees in addition to your company name on your card.Include foreign headquarters as appropriate as well as your fax number and perhaps e-mail address. Avoid colored type and paper. Be conservative by choosing white paper with black ink.
Presentation of the card varies with the culture. The practice in the United States of glancing at the business card and promptly putting in the pocket is considered rude in countries like Japan. TheJapanese examine the business card carefully and make some comment while accepting it. During meetings, place the business cards of others attending in front of you on the conference table to properly refer to names, ranks, and titles. Use both hands when presenting your card in Japan or South Korea; position the cards so that the person can read it.
An exchange of business cards is an expected partof all business introductions and most personal ones in Europe, including the Scandinavian countries. Because Scandinavians are respectful of age, include your company´s date of establishment on your business cards when the company´s history is a long one. Other parts of the world in which an exchange of business cards is the norm include the Middle East, the Pacific, Asia, and the Caribbean.POSITION AND STATUS
Position and status may have an impact on the success of intercultural communication encounters. No standard definition of social class exists that applies to all countries because people in different cultures have their own way of identifying the classes. Some cultures believe that people should occupy their proper places and that some are entitled to more respect thanothers. Most people of the United States show limited respect for rank and authority, although many other cultures are very conscious of position and power.
Although the United States is not considered a nation of classes, distinctions in positions and status do exist. Because class distinctions in the United States are subtle, visitors from other cultures may not be able to spot the...