Foreign Etiquette


Foreign Etiquette Essay, Research Paper

Etiquette for Greetings and Business Cards

As we do business in other countries and as we receive businesspeople from other countries in our American offices, it is important to know how to greet people and how to present our business cards. The greeting is the beginning of the business interaction; if it goes well, we create a positive impression that will serve as a foundation for our business discussions.

Business Cards

The ultimate passport in today s global economy is the business card. It identifies your company and makes it easier for international people to understand your name. Rank and profession in other countries are taken much more seriously then they are in the United States.

For every country in which you travel, have your business card information in English on one side and in the language of the particular country on the other side. Include your name, position title, your company name and address, and your fax and telephone numbers.

In European and North American countries, the business card may be presented with either hand. In Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, never present the card with your left hand; the left hand is considered unclean.


Your first chance to make an impression is when you greet someone and exchange names. In America, we tend to be formal but that does not mean we should be careless. Professional, social, and family statuses are very important in many cultures. If you say or do something, which is incorrect, you can offend others and embarrass yourself.

Always use a formal greeting when you meet people from other cultures. Never address them by their first names unless they ask you to do so. In European and North American countries, greet the person with a firm handshake, good eye contact, and the pronunciation of the last name with the courtesy title Mrs. Moschler.

In Latin American countries, greet a person with a light handshake and maybe an embrace. Remember that most peoples names are a combination of their father s and mother s names. Only a mother s name is use in conversation. So, Carlos Mendoza-Zamora would be addressed as Senor Mendoza.

The French also greet one another with a light handshake; the firm U.S.-type handshake is thought to be impolite. Generally, women do not shake hands. Young people and close friends will frequently exchange kissed on both cheeks in addition to the handshake. And the French often shake hands in departing.

In the Orient, the Chinese system presents the surname first and the given name last; for example, Wang Xiansheng would be addressed as Mr. Wang. However, if the Chinese are using English, they will usually put their surnames last as is done in the United States. When you greet Chinese people, shake hands and address them by their surnames with a courtesy title.

For India and Thailand, a greeting consists of putting your hands together in a prayer-like position, holding them about chest high, and then blowing slightly. In India, this is called NAMASTE; in Thailand, it is called Wai. People are addressed by their surnames with the appropriate courtesy title.

In Assalaamualaikum (Peace be upon you) and Waalaikum assalaam (And peace be upon you). Men may shake hands; however, remember that you should not shake hands, kiss, or embrace a member of the opposite sex.


You can see how easy it could be to insult someone or embarrass yourself as you meet and greet people. Please do your homework before you travel. Prepare your business cards and study the customs. We want to build relationships based upon respect for other cultures.

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