Florida Realtor April 2010 : Page 16
BUSINESS ETIQUETTE manners mind your Cross-cultural understanding is important for today’s globe-trotting real estate professional. Here are some tips. BY NEIL PAYNE n today’s international and culturally diverse economy, cross-cultural diﬀ erences can impact business success. A lack of cultural awareness can result in misinter-pretations, which may oﬀ end, and may tarnish your reputation. Two important areas are dining etiquette and business card etiquette. I Body language —How should you sit? Is it considered bad manners to rest elbows on the table? If seated on the ﬂ oor, what is the correct position? 3. Here are some tips: The art of dining Cross-cultural dining etiquette involves considering the following points: to be seated? Is it acceptable etiquette for men and women to sit next to one another? 4. 5. Conversation —Is the meal the proper place to engage in con-versation? If so, is discussing business appropriate? The food —What foods are com-1. seating —Is there a protocol as to 2. who sits where? Should one wait eating —What utensils, if any, are used? Is it a knife and fork, hands or chopsticks? Is there any etiquette governing their use? monly eaten? Is it considered good manners to compliment the cook, and if so, how is it done? Does one ﬁ nish 16 FLORIDA REALTOR April 2010
Mind Your Manners
Cross-cultural understanding is important for today’s globetrotting real estate professional. Here are some tips.
In today’s international and culturally diverse economy, cross-cultural differences can impact business success. A lack of cultural awareness can result in misinterpretations, which may off end, and may tarnish your reputation.
Two important areas are dining etiquette and business card etiquette.
Here are some tips:
The art of dining
Cross-cultural dining etiquette involves considering the following points:
1. Seating—Is there a protocol as to who sits where? Should one wait To be seated? Is it acceptable etiquette for men and women to sit next to one another?
2. Eating—What utensils, if any, are used? Is it a knife and fork, hands or chopsticks? Is there any etiquette governing their use?
3. Body language—How should you sit? Is it considered bad manners to rest elbows on the table? If seated on the floor, what is the correct position?
4. Conversation—Is the meal the proper place to engage in conversation? If so, is discussing business appropriate?
5. The food—What foods are commonly eaten? Is it considered good manners to compliment the cook, and if so, how is it done? Does one finish everything on the plate? Is it polite to ask for more?
Here are some examples:
• It’s good manners to remain standing until shown where to sit.
• Table manners are continental—for cutting and eating food, the fork is kept in the left hand and the knife in the right.
• Do not begin eating until the host signals that it’s time to do so.
• It’s bad manners to rest elbows on the table.
• Try to cut food with the fork as it compliments the cook by showing that you expect it to be tender.
• Everything on the plate should be eaten.
• Indicate that you’ve finished eating by laying the fork and knife parallel across the right-hand side of the plate.
• An honored guest sits at the center of the table on the side farthest from the door and begins eating first.
• Learn to use chopsticks. Never point with them and never pierce or pass food with them. Rest chopsticks on the chopstick rest when breaking to drink or chat.
• It’s good manners to try a bit of everything.
• Conversation is subdued.
• Meals are social affairs. Conversations are animated and loud.
• The head of the family or honored guest is served first.
• It’s considered good manners to insist that the most senior person be served first.
• Asking for more food is taken as a compliment.
• Turkish etiquette for dining in restaurants has a strict rule that the one who extended the invitation must pay.
• Guests are honored with prime choice of meats—head, eyes, etc.
• Food is eaten with the right hand only.
• Meat is torn by holding the piece down against the dish and ripping off the desired amount with the forefinger and the thumb pressed together.
• Rice is scooped up.
• Don’t be afraid to make a mess.
• If you’ve finished eating, leave food on your plate; otherwise, it will be filled immediately.
This is just a small representation of dining etiquette. Of course, you’ll want to do your own research about any country you plan to visit on business.
One aspect of etiquette that is very important internationally is the exchange of business cards.
Unlike in North America or Europe, where the business card has little meaning other than a convenient form of capturing essential personal details, in other parts of the world the business card has very different meanings.
For example, in Japan the business card is viewed as a representation of the owner. Therefore proper business etiquette demands that one treat the business card with respect and honor.
Here are examples of international business card exchange etiquette:
• The business card is an internationally recognized means of presenting personal contact details, so ensure you have a plentiful supply.
• Demonstrating good business etiquette is merely a means of presenting yourself in the best way you can. Failure to adhere to foreign business etiquette does not always have disastrous consequences.
• When planning a business trip abroad, have one side of your business card translated into the appropriate language.
• Business cards are generally exchanged at the beginning or the end of an initial meeting.
• Good business etiquette requires you to present the card with the recipient’s language face up.
• Make a point of studying any business card presented to you, commenting on it and clarifying its information before putting it away.
• Business cards are exchanged during introductions with everyone at a meeting.
• Although not required, it’s suggested that you have the other side of your business card translated into Portuguese.
• When you have one side of your business card translated into Chinese, be sure that simplified Chinese characters are used and that it’s printed in gold ink since gold is seen as an auspicious color.
• Ensure that the translation is done in the appropriate Chinese dialect, that is, Cantonese or Mandarin.
• Your business card should include your title. If your company is the oldest or largest in your country, that fact should be highlighted on your card.
• Hold the card in both hands when offering it.
• Never write on someone’s card unless so directed.
• Business card etiquette is relaxed, involving little ceremony.
• It’s not considered bad etiquette to keep business cards in a pocket.
• Business cards should be kept clean and presentable.
• Don’t feel obliged to hand out a business card to everyone you meet as it’s not expected.
Neil Payne is the founder of Kwintessential Ltd., a cross-cultural communications consultancy that provides cultural awareness training, language instruction, translation and interpretation. For information, visit kwintessential.co.uk.
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