business etiquette 2

    Cultural differences affect business communications and define business etiquette according to social rules and norms within a certain culture. On the other hand, globalization has brought cultures closer, blurring the borders between cultural norms. Instead, people now have to understand the environment in which they word or do business, in other words, they need to learn about the collective culture of the environment.

    Flexibility and adaptation is key to successfully managing relationships in an international environment. Although domestic cultures may dominate certain aspects of business communication, organizations also develop a collective culture – planned or otherwise. In addition, certain business etiquettes have also become universally accepted in business environments. Understanding business etiquettes and adapting to business culture – a combination of domestic, international, and organizational culture – enables work and do business together effectively. Here are some areas which are affected by cultural differences:


    Hierarchy determines the channels and forms of communication within an organization. Although information relationships and communication also exist within an organization, the hierarchy defines the norms of formal communication within and outside the organization. However, the importance of the hierarchy and its governance over members of the organization varies from one culture to another.

    In cultures with less power distance and lower level of adherence to tradition and rules, people find it easier to communicate with members in the upper or lower tiers. Managers may be found talking to the staff, and employees find it easier to talk to top level managers and discuss issues. Conversely, where power and rules govern relationships, communication becomes limited to formal channels and hierarchy directs communication.

    In the case of outside communication and relationship, people in the same tier generally communicate business issues. It is not common for a financial manager to directly address a staffer of another organization or ask for information, unless it is previously arranged with the manager of that organization. Such deviations from hierarchical relationships could be misinterpreted as sign of disrespect. On the other hand, staffers are expected to discuss decisions based on the same criteria before they take actions. Try to learn more about the formalities when conversing with people in business settings.


    Being deferential means behaving in a respectful manner towards others in business environments. Deference can be conveyed using gesture, tone, or choice of words, and more. It is important to note that a person can be friendly and respectful at the same time. Being too friendly, on the other hand, is never a good sign. Understanding personal and professional boundaries is essential to maintaining business relationships. Based on hierarchical distance, the degree of power distance, and their connotation within a culture, deference can become more or less visible in communication.

    Where respect for social status and hierarchy is considered necessary, deference is interpreted positively. However, if the dominant culture considers friendliness and closeness more valuable, being deferential can be interpreted as being cold and distant. When doing business, pay attention to the communication style of your contact. People usually stick to their national cultural styles unless they adopt their organizational culture. Either way, this shows how they prefer to make and maintain relationships. You should also pay attention to your style of communication. Try to adapt and modify your style of communication to become closer, but never forget to be respectful towards your addressee.




    Being on time is not only a sign of respect, but also a necessity. Time management is values skill in business. Everyone is busy allocating time to tasks based on their priorities, and do not appreciate having to wait for someone to show up late. Respecting other people’s time shows care and consideration whereas being late could be interpreted as being disrespectful or negligent. Punctuality is a signal which indicates a person values their time and is able to manage it.

    Even though punctuality is regarded as a positive trait, it some countries being late is acceptable. While in countries such as China, Japan, and Germany it is highly valued, you may observe differently in the case of Spain or Mexico. Refer to to learn more about the importance of punctuality in different countries.


Dining out

    It is quite common to discuss business over lunch or dinner. The host suggests discussion over a meal and is responsible for choosing the restaurant and paying the bill. There are certain points to remember when dining out with business contacts. First, order a meal that is close to the price of the meal the host has chosen. This means not choosing the most expensive or the least one. It is also important to pace yourself with the host, avoiding eating too fast or too slow. Lastly, offer to pay, even if it is not expected. Learn more about dining out at



    Business communications in international settings involves social encounters with people from different cultures. National, organizational, and international cultures define norms within business settings. Knowledge of these cultures allows  people to better communicate and avoid conflicts and misunderstandings. Cultural differences affect areas such as hierarchy, deference, punctuality, and even business dining, creating a certain business etiquette.


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