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Global Biz Etiquette

By B. W. Hoffman

I pulled a book off the shelf of a friend while visiting this past weekend. I found it fascinating and asked to borrow it to share with IF readers. The book is titled, “Kiss, Bow, Or Shake Hands: How to Do Business in Sixty Countries,” by Terri Morrison, Wayne A. Conaway, and George A. Borden, Ph.D., Adams Media Corporation, Holbrook, Massachusetts, 1994. It has just come out again in 2006 in a 2 nd Edition, revised and updated. I looked it up on and I urge you to get the latest edition, it is filled with value for anyone doing business in this global network community of today.

From the 1st edition/1994:


Hong Kong: Age is respected by the Chinese. If your Hong Kong clients are Chinese, your chief representative should not be young. A person aged 50 or older will command respect. P.156

India: Indians have a less hurried attitude toward time with North Americans. The concept of “time is money” is alien to most Indians. P. 169

Netherlands: Dutch executives are often straightforward and efficient. P.240

Costa Rica: Decision-makers are readily accessible and also frank and open in discussions. Business takes place on a personal basis in Costa Rica. It is important to establish a relationship with your Costa Rican counterpart before proceeding to business discussions. P.71


Israel: Because of the Orthodox prohibition against touching women, a foreign businesswoman should not offer to shake hands with an Israeli. Wait until they offer to shake hands, then follow their lead. P.193

Egypt: Since there are several styles of greetings in Egypt, it is safest to wait for your Egyptian counterpart to initiate the greeting, especially at a first meeting. P.99

Brazil: Greetings can be effusive, with extended handshakes common during the first encounter, progressing to embraces once a friendship has been established. P.38

Cultural Orientation/Cognitive Styles:

Thailand: How Thais Organize and Process Information: The Thais cultivate alternatives and so are open to information on most issues. They live in a concrete, associative, pragmatic world where the present is more important than the future and the person takes precedence over the rule or law. P.383

Chile: In Chile, information is readily accepted for the purpose of discussion, but negotiations may be extensive, with little movement from the initial position. P.50

Australia: Australians are individually open-minded and trusting of equals until given reason not to be. P.10

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