The World of Business Etiquette:
How Do You Do?

April 1 - June 30, 2006

"If you are going to play the game properly, you had better know every rule."
- the late Barbara Jordan, U.S. Representative from Texas

Soyez la bienvenue to the Web version of the Evans Library's display on the world of business etiquette. Whether you are doing business in your own home town or with associates from other cultures or in almost any place on the face of the earth, excellent etiquette can be very advantageous to successful professional interactions. The Evans Library is proud to present "The World of Business Etiquette: How Do You Do?". Visitors will learn "do's and don't's" of proper protocol - here, there, and everywhere. Again, welcome!

Image Source

Introduction and Greetings

The word "welcome" is always welcomed!


Ahlan wa sahlan Arabic
Huanying guanglin Chinese
Velkommen Danish
Failte Gaelic
Aloha E Komo Mai Hawaiian
Benvenuti Italian
Irasshaimase Japanese
Dobro pozhalovat' Russian
Bienvenida Spanish
Herzlich Willkommen German
Kinh Chao Quy Khach Vietnamese
Tashi Delek Tibetan

It is equally important for your body language to convey sincerity and proper protocol. How you present yourself physically carries a lot of meaning to your global neighbor. Do you make eye contact? Do you shake hands? Do you bow? Do you say "hello" to your Arab neighbor's wife after meeting him? Knowing the answers to these and other questions will equip you better for successful business interactions.

"The Japanese will shake hands with Westerners as a way of making others feel comfortable. Westerners should extend the same courtesy by bowing to acknowledge that they have made an effort to learn the Japanese way. A gesture as small as this can assist in establishing rapport with a potential Japanese client. When bowing to individuals who are on the same status level as you, you should bow at the same height. When bowing to someone who is higher than you on the hierarchical level, bow a little lower than that person to display corporate deference. When bowing, eyes should be lowered rather than looking at the person. Men should keep their hands at their sides while women should keep their hands in front of them."

- International Business Etiquette, Ann Marie Sabath

"A traditional Arab male will not necessarily introduce his wife."

- Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands: How to do Business in Sixty Countries, Terri Morrison, Wayne A. Conaway, and George A Borden

"In much of Asia and some parts of Africa and Latin America, direct eye contact, especially with elders, is considered disrespectful. In Austria, eye contact is expected and important. In Russia, there is little eye contact on the street, but direct eye contact is important in business. Eye contact will be a special challenge in Spain. Holding eye contact during a conversation shows sincerity; lowering the eyes signals respect. Yet, as in the United States and Canada, prolonged contact by a woman could send the wrong message."

- Do's and Taboos Around the World for Women in Business, Roger E. Axtell

"With just a look or a gesture...she would reveal to all of us...her compasssion and her humanity."
-Tony Blair, British Prime Minister, eulogizing Princess Diana

"Ask a person about himself. Most persons are flattered to talk about themselves, and once this process is in motion, one only need sit back and listen."
-Barbara Walters


Nei hou ma, Ni hao Chinese
Ahoj Czech
Guten tag German
Konnichiwa, Ohayo Japanese
Labas Lithuanian
Dzien dobry Polish
Jambo Swahili
Hej Swedish
Sawat dii Thai
Privit, Dobri den Ukrainian

The Dining Experience

"Eating is not an executive skill; but it is especially hard to imagine why anyone negotiating a rise to the top would consider it possible to skip mastering the very simple requirements. What else did they skip learning?"
- Fortune 500 DEO

Most business meetings include some kind of dining. Do you know your salad fork from your fish fork? The general rule of thumb is to use the flatware starting at the outside and working your way in toward the plate; i.e., soup and salad utensils would be used early in the meal.

Compare the following dining styles, foods, and gatherings to what you are accustomed. How does it differ from yours?


"At a meal, eat lightly in the beginning, since there could be up to twenty courses served. Expect your host to keep filling your bowl when you empty it. Finishing all of your food may be an insult to your host, since it can mean he did not provide enough food. Leaving a bowl completely full is also rude. The Chinese use chopsticks for eating and a porcelain spoon for soup. Your attempts at using chopsticks will be appreciated. When you are finished, set the chopsticks on the table or on the chopstick rest. Placing them parallel on top of your bowl is considered bad luck. Toasting is big in China. At banquets, the host offers the first toast, and the ceremony continues all evening. The serving of fruit signals the end of the meal."


"Business entertaining usually occurs after business hours, and very rarely in the home. You will be entertained often, sometimes on short notice. When you are taken out, your host will treat. Allow your host to order for you. Be enthusiastic while eating and show great thanks afterwards. For social occasions, it is appropriate to be fashionably late. Meals are long, but the evening usually ends about 11 p.m. Never point your chopsticks at another person. When you are not using them, you should line them up on the chopstick rest."


"Always have a good supply of soft drinks, tea, coffee (not in plastic cups!), danish, cookies, snacks, and so forth, on the meeting table. Russians try hard to provide a variety of refreshments when conducting business, and appreciate you reciprocating in kind. At Russian hotels and restaurants, the doorman must try to let in only certain people. Don't be surprised if they are not friendly. In restaurants you may have a long wait for food. Ignore the menues; perhaps only a third of the items listed will actually be available. You must ask the waiter (if he or she speaks English) what is being served that day. Dinners are held early (6 p.m.) It is a great honor to be invited to a Russian home. It is also a great burden for the host. Russian tradition demands that you be served a lunch or dinner that far exceeds everyone's appetite, and often, the financial capabilities of the hosts. For example, caviar might be served with huge spoons. It is good to know a few toasts. The most common is Nah-zda-ROE-vee-ah."


"Australians do not make unannounced visits; always call ahead. In an Australian pub, it is vital to remember that each person pays for a round of drinks. Missing your turn to 'shout for a round' is a sure way to make a bad impression. Australians don't invite strangers into their homes right away. They take their time getting to know someone before an invitation is made. Barbeques are a favorite reason for gathering. To avoid confusion, remember that 'afternoon tea' is around 4:00 p.m., 'tea' is the evening meal served between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m., and 'supper' is a late night snack. Good conversation topics are sports, which are very popular, and sightseeing, since Australians are very proud of their country. Politics and religion are taken very seriously, so expect some strong opinions if you discuss these topics. Remember that Australians respect people with opinions, even if those opinions conflict with their own. Arguments are considered entertaining, so do not be shy about espousing any truly held beliefs."

-above excerpts from the book - Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands: How to do Business in Sixty Countries, Terri Morrison, Wayne A. Conaway, and George A Borden

Bon Appétit!


As mentioned earlier, "body language" is an important part of understanding other cultures. Keeping particular "culturally correct" gestures in mind will allow for a more comfortable and productive relationship between the host and guest.

The following excerpts are from the book, Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands: How to do Business in Sixty Countries, Terri Morrison, Wayne A. Conaway, and George A. Borden.


Aside from handshakes, there is no public contact between the sexes. Do not kiss or hug a person of the opposite sex in public - even if you are husband and wife. On the other hand, contact between people of the same sex is permitted. Men may hold hands with men or even walk with their arms around each other; this is interpreted as nothing except friendship.

Among both Muslims and Hindus, the left hand is considered unclean. Eat with your right hand only. The foot is also considered unclean. Do not move anything with your feet and do not touch anything with your feet. Do not show the soles of your feet (or shoes). This restriction determines how one sits: You can cross your legs at the knee, but not place one ankle on your knee. It is impolite to point at anyone with the forefinger. Malays use a forefinger only to point at animals. When you must indicate something or someone, use the entire right hand (palm out). The head is considered the seat of the soul by many Indians and Malays. Never touch someone's head, not even to pat the hair of a child. Among Indians, a side-to-side toss of one's head indicates agreement, although Westerners may interpret it as a nod meaning 'no'.


The Dutch are rather formal and reserved in public. They avoid any type of public spectacle. For example, when you notice an acquaintance in the distance, it is considered ill-mannered to shout a greeting. (You may wave to attract their attention, though).


Peruvians communicate in close proximity. When they stand nearby, do not back away, as you will offend them. And do not be surprised if your Peruvian associates take your arm as you walk - men often walk arm-in-arm with other men, as do women with other women.To signal 'come here', hold your hand vertically and wave it back and forth with the palm facing out, or put your palm face down, and wave the fingers back and forth. When eating out, be sure to rest both hands at the table, rather than leaving one in your lap.'I'm thinking' is represented by tapping your head. 'Pay me' is signified by an eyebrow raise, or by sweeping your hand toward your body.


Do not wink at a person, even in friendship. Do not put your arm around another's shoulders. While young children of the same sex will often hold hands, it is inappropriate for others to do so or to make physical contact with people who are not good friends or family. Do not touch the head of another person's child. Children are considered precious, and it is believed that they may be damaged by careless touching. Feet are considered dirty and should not touch things or people. Men should keep their feet flat on the floor, while women are permitted to cross their legs. Chinese point with their open hands, since pointing with a finger is considered rude. They beckon by extending their arms palm down and waving their fingers. While Westerners point to their chests to indicate the first person, 'I," Chinese will point to their noses to indicate the same thing."

A bent-arm gesture that involves tapping the underside of the elbow is a way of accusing someone of being unreliable - a serious accusation among Dutch business people.Sucking one's thumb is a way of saying "I don't believe you."To indicate that someone is miserly or cheap, glide the forefinger down the bridge of your nose a few times.The North American gesture for 'crazy' (making circles with the forefinger near the temple) is almost identical with the Dutch gesture for "you have a phone call" (the Dutch rotate their forefinger over the ear rather than over the temple.

"As the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate more lovingly, our own."
- Margaret Mead


Below are flags and images from countries around the world. Can you name the country each flag represents?


More flags

"To write a thank-you note is never wrong."
- Nancy Holder, Protocol Consulant

Some Internet Sites Related to Business Ettiquette:

Executive Planet http://www.executiveplanet.com/
International Business Etiquette and Manners http://www.cyborlink.com/
Quintessential Careers http://www.quintcareers.com/job-hunting_etiquette.html
The Protocol School of Palm Beach http://www.etiquetteexpert.com
Business Netiquette International http://www.bspage.com/1netiq/Netiq.html
Getting Through Customs http://www.getcustoms.com/2004GTC/articles.html
Asia Pulse's Guide to Business Etiquette in Asia http://www.tomcoyner.com/etiquette1.htm
Inter-American Understanding http://interamerican-understanding.freewebspace.com/
International Business Center


Kwintessential http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/

Thank you for exploring the world of business etiquette.

"To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe."
- Marilyn vos Savant

Au revoir! Auf Wiedersehen! Antio! Arrivederci! Sayonara! Do widzenia! Do pobachennja! Adios!

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