What does it take to become an internationally successful professional? It is tempting to believe that only those who are perfectly acquainted with another country’s business etiquette can behave appropriately. However, approaching this challenge too pedantically runs the risk of overlooking the truly important aspects of communicating with international business partners. To experience greater diversity and learn new things, you must be genuinely willing to engage with other countries and cultures and to set aside your own ingrained behavioral patterns and values. A wonderful side effect of this is that it allows you to identify a country’s customs more quickly and to develop a better feel for what behavior is required. Being open and willing to engage will also increase your chances of adding new business partners to your network.
Just as in our own culture, other cultures also excuse minor social errors on the part of foreigners – after all, we have all been guests in another country at one time or another. Should, despite this, you not be sure whether you should adopt your business partners’ customs or they yours, it can be helpful to ask coworkers if there have already been meetings and, if yes, what the participants did. As a general rule, it is never a mistake to follow a foreign country’s social conventions when you are a guest there.