If you are making a business trip to a foreign country, it is as important to do your homework on the culture as it is to pack your passport. Business leaders traveling the world and staying in luxury hotels are expected to know the basics of their host country’s etiquette. Ignorance is absolutely no excuse to give your opposite number an offensive gesture, says Lonely Planet.
For example, did you know that in Japan you are expected to top up the glass of the person next to you, but never your own glass? If you help yourself it would be seen as a clear sign that you are alcoholic!
In Russia, when vodka is poured, wait for the toast and then knock back the shot in one gulp. If you get through that ordeal, here’s another which may trip you up. When the vodka bottle is empty it should never be placed on the table, but put on the floor. In Armenia, if you tip the last drops into someone else’s glass it obliges them to buy the next bottle. If you want that contract, make sure you empty the bottle into your own glass and then order a replacement.
The open palm in some cultures is not the friendly wave that it was intended to be. In Greece, never hold up the palm to indicate halt, or signify five. You have just unwittingly given someone the middle finger gesture. Similarly the “Okay” sign with a thumb and index finger in Brazil is definitely not okay to do.
Finally, always find out whether a kiss, a bow or a handshake is the correct customary business greeting and always learn to say “thank you” in the local language, if nothing else.
by Gillian at Luxique Luxury Hotels