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Mind Your Manners: International Business Travel Tips

To be successful in business, we all must know how, and what kind of relationships to develop with each other, with our nearby neighbors, and with our neighbors far away. Our marketplace, our community, our jobs: We’ve all gone global.

Nowhere is this more true than in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. At US Sedan, we provide ground transportation for visiting diplomats and C-level executives who have come from every corner of the world. Some visit for pleasure, others for business, but all must adapt to our specific way of doing things; our customs. While here, they speak our language, and eat food our way, and deal with our traffic. (Hey, at least it’s one of OUR highly trained chauffeurs doing the driving, right?)

But what about when it’s us doing the traveling? What happens when we must do the border crossing, and when we must conform to a different way of doing things? Suddenly, we’re as confused as the Chinese diplomat who doesn’t understand a public discussion of criticism (even when it’s constructive).

International business etiquette is confusing, to be sure. Saying the right thing, or doing the wrong can truly make or break a burgeoning business relationship, so we’ve put together this brief guide to help you transition seamlessly into doing business in other countries

ASIA

China & Japan

  • In China and Japan, punctuality is crucial; do not be late.
  • Business attire is formal. While this is true in most Asian countries, a suit and tie, or a dress should always be worn to professional meetings in Japan.
  • Upon meeting, present your business card with both hands, and nod. It is considered most polite to examine the other person’s business card carefully before putting it away in a place such as your breast pocket.

India

  • Unlike in China and Japan, your Indian business companions will not be overly offended if you are a little late, but don’t push it.
  • Business meetings are far less formal, and far more social here. It is considered rude to jump straight to the point of the meeting, so be prepared to make small talk first. You might ingratiate yourself by asking questions of the family.

EUROPE

England

  • English business professionals will expect you to show up on time, or even slightly early for your meeting.
  • Personal touches, such as hugging or kissing, are reserved for family members and close friends. Be sure to respect this custom, and allow for a certain amount of personal space.

Germany

  • Show up to your meeting on time; this is fairly universal. Fairly.
  • Address everyone in business conversation as Mr. or Ms., no matter the professional hierarchy — unless, of course, you have been instructed otherwise.
  • Do not remove your suit jacket during a business meeting. This will be considered rude.

France

  • Punctuality is of limited importance. You will be considered “on time” for a business meeting, even if you’re 10 minutes late.
  • Dress is formal, fashionable, and well tailored. It is France, after all.
  • Just as in Germany, the removal of your suit jacket during a business meeting could be considered rude.

US Sedan — Washington DC’s premier ground transportation service provider for nearly two decades — moves the people who move the world.

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