Cultural Considerations

Cultural considerations : Meeting and greeting guests

Kripen Dhrona, Marketing and Events Manager at London’s Enterprise Hotel, which attracts a multi-cultural mix of clients and guests, has been in the meetings and events business for 15 years.

Here he shares his views on how we can work together with respect and consideration.

Kripen says that he is regularly amazed and often fascinated by the lack of consideration and sensitivity shown towards cultural differences in business.

“I wouldn’t dream of claiming to be an authority on the subject of international business etiquette but experience has shown me that with a little common sense and careful planning you can win respect along with a competitive edge.”

It’s obvious, really.  Meeting and event organisers should be versed in the basics and in many situations carry out detailed research on the cultures they are targeting because meeting attendees and conference delegates can easily be alienated by the simplest mistake in etiquette.

We are all different and from my perspective undoubtedly equal.  However all cultures have subtle hierarchies and of course pecking orders and respecting those to my mind simply shows courtesy and consideration.

On working with Asian delegates, particularly Indian, the first thing you will notice is their outwardly formal nature. Rankings still prevail in business culture, a short nod of the head when greeting someone higher in rank or older than you is treated as a mark of respect.

Handshakes still take place, however don’t make eye contact during the shake (and avoid the nod of the head if your delegates are from The Philippines!).

If you are uncertain which one of the group is the senior member among the party you are meeting with – watch who sits down first and who begins to eat first – they will be the most senior.

Don’t rely on start and end times of meetings – while Chinese, Japanese, Hong Kong, South Korean and Thai delegates will stick to the times fairly rigidly, Malaysian, Vietnamese, and delegates from the Philippines are unlikely to start punctually.

For some Indian delegates, it can be seen as rude to show up on time or over half an hour late.

The Asian Culture honours last names and professional titles – don’t be afraid to highlight these when introducing yourself or others.

If the opportunity arises for Business Cards to be exchanged, Indian delegates will prefer you do this with your right hand, whereas Chinese and other Asian delegates will like to see you study the card briefly before placing in your pocket.

Source : Kripen Dhrona, Marketing and Events Manager, the Enterprise Hotel, London.


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