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International Business: Cross-cultural awareness

International Business Etiquette

Enhance your cross-cultural awareness and learn key etiquette tips.

Diane Craig with Australian Ambassador to Canada

This module presents essential techniques and strategies for doing business with international clients.

It is a shrinking world. High-speed communication and trade meetings bring you closer than ever to your overseas clientele. International business opportunities also expose you to the challenges of dealing with clients whose traditions and daily habits may differ from your own. Our international business etiquette program consists of  four linked modules.  They illustrate a progression from sensitivity to cultural differences to enhanced business performance.

1. Understanding cultural differences Be able to recognize the main stumbling blocks facing North Americans abroad. Assess your ability to adapt to another culture and be aware of the dangers of stereotyping.

2. Become familiar with the different categories of culture Become acquainted with how people from different parts of the world value hierarchy, status, performance, legal agreements, scheduling, deadlines, business relationships and personal ownership.

3. Learn different communication styles Assess your own communication skills in personal meetings. Learn the main communication differences: context, styles, intonation, space, gestures and humour. We will offer guidance showing you how you can enrich your communication with international counterparts.

4. Excel in international business interactions Learn the business etiquette of your target country. These include forms of address, introductions, body language, handshaking customs, business card exchanges, appropriate conversation, gift giving and dining.

An example of a recent consultation showing how Corporate Class Inc. offered guidance to an internationally recognized Canadian government agency by using the above modules and a simulation exercise.

This proud organization wished to develop an image consistent with its globally recognized excellence. International visitors are usually greeted by protocol officers whose main task is to accompany them during their entire visit.

These officers were familiar with the protocols to follow but had never received formal training in international etiquette or cross-cultural awareness. A simulation exercise was conducted during which Diane Craig and her associate were received as important high officials from abroad. Based on findings observed during this exercise, Corporate Class Inc. customized a training program. This was designed to heighten the awareness of protocol and liaison officers of other cultures and become more competent in the essentials of international business etiquette.

Feedback received:

"Our officers feel more comfortable receiving international visitors after this training. In particular, they appreciated learning about how other cultures think and direct their actions. They said they were committed to be not as judgmental anymore, and felt more confident knowing what they can talk about, or not, when in the company of international visitors."

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