English in the Real World
Doing Business in Different Cultures in English
The big question here is how to address different cultures under one roof. Some cultures strongly regard personal distance and to others, a simple handshake seals a deal.
For example in Hong Kong, the handshake is commonly used when greeting westerners. During the greeting, the Chinese lower their eyes as a sign of respect, and keeping eye contact for too long must be avoided as this may be seen as a challenge of authority.
The Indians greet according to age, therefore the eldest person in the room must be greeted first. They also believe in greeting and thanking each individual personally when leaving a room. Men shake hands with men and women with women, while men and women seldom shake hands with each other.
The Italians are one of the friendliest nations, but don’t let that fool you when it comes to business. When doing business with the Italians, greetings are enthusiastic, yet very formal until you are invited to move to a first name basis, then some air-kissing on both cheeks, starting with the left may also be permitted.
From the examples above, it is clear to see that one has to be careful when conducting business with many different cultures, we have to take care not to offend each other, yet still make everyone feel welcome. With all this interaction between different cultures, we may also be forming an international business culture which may be accepted in all countries at all times.