Being prepared for an international business meeting requires information and knowledge of what will be discussed or presented at this meeting. A nice social gesture when you meet an international company for the first time is usually to give a gift. Take some time to research local customs before making a purchase, however, as some countries find it offensive to receive a gift. Knowing what to do before you leave will not only show that you cared enough to know the etiquette of your destination, but it could also open all kinds of new doors and opportunities for you and your business.
Many multinational companies and their governments have very strict policies when it comes to business associates accepting gifts. Many Asian countries are concerned about corporate corruption and view gift giving as a bribe, so avoiding gift giving until you know the company and its policies might be a good idea. You should know that in Malaysia, most companies require you to establish a working relationship with them before giving a gift. Even here in the United States, our government sets a $ 25 spending limit on how much a business gift can cost.
An important fact to know about Latin American culture is that it is predominantly patriarchal and there are very strict divisions between work and home. The men are in business and the women are at home. If you happen to visit Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia, Chile, Nicaragua or Peru, make sure you familiarize yourself with the current affairs and political affairs taking place within those countries and avoid any discussion on these topics as it sure will. destroy all business relationships you hope to establish with companies therein.
When you first meet prospective business clients, handshakes are important, so be firm but brief and always make sure you maintain constant eye contact throughout the handshake. When shaking hands with a woman, remember to be polite and allow her to reach out first. Expect the person you are talking to to stand by and look you in the eye, do not flinch or break eye contact as you may offend the person speaking to you.
Below are some social taboos you should be aware of as using any of the following gestures can cause problems.
1. The “OK” sign made with the index finger and thumb is an offensive gesture in Brazil.
2. Putting your hands on your hips in Argentina means you are reporting a challenge.
3. Raising the fist to the head in Chile is a sign of communism.
Latin America enjoys their business lunch and it is usually quite long, at least two hours or more. Dinners are considered purely social events and start late at night, usually around 10pm or 11pm. When attending a social dinner, remember to always keep your hands above the table when eating and always pass the food with your right hand
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