Etiquette Do’s and Don’ts

Best-selling author of the Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands business etiquette series, Terri Morrison, says “You can’t expect everyone to abide by your sensibilities when you travel abroad and you must understand what’s appropriate to their cultures.”

Here are a few of Morrison’s dos and don’ts for conducting business overseas.

DO …

Use the appropriate greeting for a particular country, whether it’s namaste or bonjour. Learn a few words of the local language.

Exchange business cards that include different languages/translations — and use a card holder when in Asia.

Be on time, especially in countries like Switzerland or Germany that place an emphasis on punctuality.

Understand that, in many countries around the world, people still smoke and therefore a smoking area should be set aside at an event.

Pay attention to dining etiquette and don’t be afraid to try the local cuisine, or to incorporate it into your event.

Understand that time is relative in different regions, and that time zones are different, as are times for doing certain activities in different countries.

Think about what your international suppliers may think of you and your respective culture.


Make inappropriate public displays of affection.

Greet members of the opposite gender with a hug or a kiss in the following places: China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Nigeria, or the Middle East/Persian Gulf.

Use any graphics, colors, or symbols that may be offensive on your business cards. For example, it is sacrilegious to use the flag of Saudi Arabia on a business card because the flag has Allah’s name on it.

Ask overly personal or intrusive questions about family members in the Middle East, or about personal finances/costs in France.

Source : “Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands” – Author Terri Morrison

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