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International Business Etiquette (Seattle)

Etiquette in business is much more than knowing which fork to use when dining or how to greet clients when at lunch. To be sure you don't get embarrassed in business you really should consider learning the skills needed to present yourself as a professional and be taken seriously.
Etiquette is all about presentation and how to deal with people in business and in public. Whether you are at an important business meal, or you are networking, your manners play a vital role each and every day.
According to an old Japanese saying, "the protruding nail gets hammered down." If you've ever committed a major faux pas in an international business meeting, you'll appreciate this statement! In today's increasingly global business environment, it pays to be aware of the international rules of etiquette.
One of the trickiest things about working with foreign counterparts is the risk that small, everyday gestures could be wildly misinterpreted. For example, nodding your head up and down in North America signifies your agreement with a person. But in Bulgaria, the same action would tell the person you're meeting with that you're disagreeing with them! Physical gestures play an important role when meeting in a foreign country.
What to wear, which title to use, how to negotiate and whether or not to bring a gift are just some of the quandaries business travelers face. For example, Thailand, it's customary to exchange gifts during your second business meeting. In China, however, gift giving is considered a form of bribery and is actually illegal!
In North America, it's common to call business colleagues by their first names, but this would be inappropriate in Japan. Japanese acquaintances should always be addressed by their title or by their last name with the prefix san. However, the prefix san should not be used for a child, spouse or an absent colleague.
Whether you are doing business with foreign counterparts or networking, here are in a nutshell few things that you should consider:
Greetings
Handshaking and greetings can differ from country to country, and region to region. Pay attention and remember how introductions are practiced.
Gender Differences
Men and women are treated very differently in business in various cultures. In some cultures women may be at disadvantage and for this reason businesswomen need to be take a more cautious approach to local cultural norms.
Meetings
Business meeting styles, seating, formality and who attends are much different in Asia and Europe than they are in the United States.
Business Dining
Business meals can vary from country to country. In some countries, when entertaining business guests, the host pays extra attention to the length of the meal, the type of food they serve, and the conversations that are appropriate to be discussed. In some cultures business is not done when the meal is brought out.
Gifts
Gifts vary just as much as everything else can, from the type of gift to the detail of the gift bag. For example, in Japan, the wrapping of the gift is just as important as the gift itself.
Personal Space
Closeness of individuals in various countries can have many different overtones. Some cultures it could signify a sign of intimacy. Be sure the signals you give out don't misrepresent the message you are trying to convey.
Language
English is considered to be the language of commerce, but it is also respectful to show a few key phrases in their language.

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