International Business Etiquette

“To have respect for ourselves guides our morals; and to have a deference for others governs our manners.” Lawrence Sterne, Irish novelist & satirist (1713 – 1768)

Etiquette, or good manners, is an important part of our day to day lives. Whether we realise it or not we are always subconsciously adhering to rules of etiquette. Much of the time these are unwritten; for example giving up your seat to a lady or elderly person, queuing for a bus in an orderly fashion according to who arrived first or simply saying “please” or “thank you”. All are examples of etiquette; complex unwritten rules that reflect a culture’s values.

Etiquette accomplishes many tasks. However, the one noteworthy function that etiquette does perform is that it shows respect and deference to another. By doing so it maintains good interpersonal relationships. Ultimately, it could be argued, etiquette is about making sure that when people mix together there are rules of interaction in place that ensure their communication, transaction or whatever it may be goes smoothly.

We all now how we or others feel when a lack of etiquette is shown. If someone jumps the queue, does not thank you for holding the door open for them or forgets to shake your hand, we naturally feel disrespected and perturbed.

International Business Etiquette

Keeping the above points in mind, now consider the complexities of working on the international stage. Modern business is global and demands people travel to foreign countries and mix with foreign clients, colleagues or customers. Each one of those cultures will also have their own etiquette rules, many of them unwritten. When two or more different cultures mix, it is easy for small etiquette mistakes to be made that could have negative consequences. Just as you may have felt annoyed when a foreign businessman did not shake your hands upon greeting you, imagine how your Chinese client must have felt when you wrote on his business card or your Indian colleague reacted when you flatly rejected an offer of a meal. Sometimes, not understanding the etiquette of another culture means you show a lack of manners and as Lawrence Sterne said, a lack of deference. This can and does lead to soured relationships, lost deals and in the end poor business results. Anyone working on the international stage needs to understand international business etiquette.

International business etiquette manifests in many shapes and sizes. Throughout the world people from different cultures have varying etiquette rules around areas such as personal space, communication, gift giving, food, business meetings and much more. For those wanting to make a good impression and understanding of international business etiquette is crucial. By way of introducing some of the key areas within international business etiquette we shall look at the following common areas…

Business Card Etiquette:

When you exchange business cards (even if you exchange them) do you simply pass it over and forget about it? In many countries the business card has certain etiquette rules. For example in the Arab world you would never give or receive a business card with your left hand. In China and Japan you should try and use both hands to give and receive. In addition it is always good etiquette to examine the card and make a positive comment on it. Whereas in the UK it may be OK to sling the business card into a pocket, in many countries you should always treat it with much more respect such as storing it in a business card holder.

The Etiquette of Personal Space:

How close do you stand to people? Is it impolite to touch somebody? What about gender differences? In the Middle East you may get very touchy-feely with the men, yet one should never touch a woman. A slap on the back may be OK in Mexico but in China it is a serious no-no. Touch someone on the head in Thailand or Indonesia and you would have caused great insult. Without an appreciation of international business etiquette, these things would never be known.

The Etiquette of Gift Giving:

Many countries such as China and Japan have many etiquette rules surrounding the exchange of business gifts. International business etiquette allows you an insight into what to buy, how to give a gift, how to receive, whether to open in front of the giver and what gifts not to buy. Great examples of gifts to avoid are anything alcoholic in Muslim countries, anything with four of anything in Japan and clocks in China.

The Etiquette of Communication:

Some cultures like to talk loudly (US and Germany), some softly (India and China); some speak directly (Holland and Denmark) others indirectly (UK and Japan); some tolerate interrupting others while speaking (Brazil) others not (Canada); some are very blunt (Greece) and some very flowery (Middle East). All will believe the way they are communicating is fine, but when transferred into an international context this no longer applies. Without the right international business etiquette it is easy to offend.

International Business – Degree Study Programs

It is no surprise that businesses are crossing over into other countries by selling their product internationally. The challenge of conducting business internationally is the differences in policy and social interaction. The need for education in business is essential and students can enter degrees with an international focus from business schools across the country.

With companies expanding their reach into foreign markets the study of business in regards to international work is required.

Students can enter multiple degree programs that focus on the differences of business culturally, geographically, and economically.
Studies can be entered at all degree levels, which present students with a variety of careers that they can transition into once they graduate.

There are numerous things for students to know prior to enrollment in a learning program.

1. Beginning education with an associate’s degree provides students with specialized international business courses, general business courses, and some general education courses. The ultimate goal is to train students to enter work in global firms. Students explore global industry standards and regulations that help them become comfortable with international business tactics. Through the examination of business roles in global agenda students become an asset inside their job. Students are taught how to facilitate strategies that center on helping businesses be strong internationally. A general international business course introduces students to the geography, the Internet, and the cultures that participate in global business. Subjects covered include organizations, monetary systems, and business roles. Education at this level is a good stepping-stone to start a career or continue education.

2. Students can study in concentrated areas such as international banking, exporting, and marketing when they enter a bachelor’s degree program. A program goes through the different regulatory practices that make up the work involved in international organizations. Essentials of business are also taught, which includes microeconomics, data analysis, and accounting. Courses on international marketing, finance, transportation, and the global market build upon basic business principles to create a well rounded professional. A marketing course gives students the framework for how marketing crosses national borders. Different foreign markets are examined to prepare students to work with various factors when deciding how to market internationally. Many students enter a career directly after completion but some use a bachelor’s for an education base to enter a master of business administration degree.

3. Management level skills are gained when students work through an MBA in international business. Areas like business risk, foreign interaction, and contract assessment are discussed inside advanced level coursework. Students are able to explain regulations on importing, unfair trade, and law. Management courses on marketing, finance, advertising, and leadership are taught from an international strategic standpoint. Career work can be done in global companies as well as in government agencies and banking companies. Many students work within international companies throughout different areas of the world. In depth research and understanding is obtained when students work through a PhD degree. Curriculum is highly focused on advanced international study. Career work usually consists of becoming a post secondary professor.

International Business Degree Schools Online

Online schooling options are available to students looking to obtain a degree in international business. There are numerous schools and colleges that offer online degree training in the field of business. Students can prepare for the career of their dreams by enrolling in a number of programs. Online schools and colleges allow students to train for careers working in international finance, management, marketing, sales, importing and exporting, and more. Student may study coursework such as foreign culture, economics, imports and exports, tax, and much more depending on the chosen level of degree and specialization. Online degrees in international business can include an associate’s, bachelors, masters, and doctorate degree.

Associates degree programs are available from numerous online schools and colleges. Students can obtain an associates degree in international business in as little as two years depending on the specific area of concentration they choose. Coursework may consist of studying international trade, macroeconomics, global markets, international marketing, and other related courses. Students who wish to enroll in an accredited online program can train for careers with banks, multinational manufacturers, import/export corporations, consulting firms, and other international organizations. With an accredited associates degree students will have the skills and knowledge to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the field.

There are a number of accredited online educational programs that allow students to train for numerous careers in international business. An online bachelor’s degree program will take students approximately four years to complete. Course curriculum will vary depending on the specialization chosen by the students but may include the study of economics, principals of marketing, foreign language, international business finance, cross cultural studies, and much more. Students who wish to pursue international careers such as management analyst, sales representative, auditor, and accountant, should consider a bachelors degree. Those who wish to further their education can consider online degree training for a master’s degree in international business.

Online schools and colleges allow students to enroll in masters degree programs in the area of international business. Online degrees at this level typically take students two additional years to obtain. Students can choose to specialize in a specific area including international trade, tax, management, and much more. Areas of study may include international business policy, trade controls, international finance, foreign operations, and more depending on the chosen specialty. With an accredited masters degree students can pursue careers as international marketing directors, multinational managers, international trade managers, financial controllers, and international foreign policy advisors. A degree at this level of education will allow student to enter the workforce or enroll in a doctorate program.

A doctorate degree in international business will allow students to earn their degree with an additional two years of study. Online educational programs train students in a number of subjects to ensure they receive the knowledge and skills to pursue the career they desire. Coursework may include theory of international business, research design, marketing, communications, multi-national enterprise, and much more. With an accredited online education students will obtain the necessary training to find employment as economic researchers, university professors, business development managers, chief executive officers, and other professionals. A doctorate degree is the highest level of degree obtainable in the field of international business.