Every country nowadays is challenged to be globally competitive. One area of special concern of our businessmen especially exporters and others involved in international trade is the culture, the history, the customs, and the traditions of the countries of foreigners doing business with other nationals.
There are a thousand and one blunders in the world of international behavior that are committed every day not only in our country but in other countries as well.
Let me share with you some customs and peculiarities of other countries:
- Some women of India place a red dot on their forehead. This is a sign that the women are married;
- If invited for dinner to a German home, flower is a welcome gift. Not roses, however, since roses are only for lovers in Germany;
- Do not give a Hindu an article made of cowhide. The official state religion of India reveres cows;
- In Japan, avoid wearing an all-white dress or suit. This is the color of mourning;
- In Japan, special attention and care is given to wrappings of gifts given to others;
- One should refrain from giving a clock as a gift to a Chinese for this item is strongly identified with death in China;
- Handshaking in Africa is part of people’s culture. It is no wonder that Africans are fond of shaking hands constantly;
- It is not advisable to plan a business trip to the Arab countries during Ramadan (annual month of fasting and prayer from sunrise to sunset is usually the month of March or April);
- People in the Arab countries do everything with the right hand like holding, offering or receiving materials; and they expect others to do the same (explain to them if you are left-handed);
- In the Arab countries, foreign-business women should refrain from sitting down and crossing one leg over the other;
- In the Arab countries, foreign-business women should dress conservatively and avoid wearing mini-skirts and low-necked dresses;
- In Saudi Arabia, do not give a bottle or hard alcohol drink as a gift;
- In South Korea, the concept of Dutch treat in dining is not the practice;
- Never joke about religion or sacred traditions when you are in another country; also avoid ethnic or racist jokes. This brand of humor may have disastrous consequences; and
- If unsure of the political situation in the country where you are visiting – do not delve on political issues. You may offend the sensitivities of the local businessmen;
Whatever is the nationality of the foreign business you are dealing with, always show respect.
Now and then I will be writing more of the cultural peculiarities of the people of other countries.
Have a joyful day!
(For comments/reactions please send to Ms. Villafuerte’s email: [email protected])