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International Etiquette 101.

March 31, 2011

Every culture has their own traditions and standards so whats deemed appropriate here may be insulting elsewhere. For those who travel for business its essential to know the basics in international etiquette. I recently read in article in USA Today about the must-knows for any business traveler. The last thing you want to do after travelling 9 hours from New York City to Brazil is accidentally flip the bird to your potential client when your really just giving the hand gesture for “ok”. True story. So to help prevent any embarrassing blunders, USA Today asked Lonely Planet to compile a list of the top etiquette rules every American should know.

  1. In Japan, sipping or slurping your food is totally acceptable. When using chopsticks, never stick them upright into a bowl of rice because “that’s how rice if offered to the dead.” Tipping is also a no-no. If you want to show gratitude give a gift, preferably American made.
  2. In France, going dutch on the bill is “considered the height of un-sophistication.” Also, never talk money at the dinner table, its deemed tacky.
  3. In Russia when toasting with vodka, men are expected to complete the shot while women are given leeway. Empty bottles are never placed on the table, they should be placed on the floor.
  4. In England  “don’t stick up an index finger and a middle finger with the palm of your hand facing you.” It’s like giving the middle finger.
  5. In Greece, showing someone your open palm is saying “I reject you”. Now I know where the whole, talk to the hand thing comes from. 
  6. In Thailand don’t get all grossed out if you see someone openly picking their nose. It’s considered “a natural act of good hygiene.” 
  7. In Brazil, not answering your cellphone during a business meeting is considered rude.
  8. In the Caribbean, address new people you meet with mister, ma’am or professor until they advise you to call them otherwise.

According to Ann Marie Sabath, author of Business Etiquette: 101 Ways to Conduct Business with Charm & Savvy, more than 70% of North American travelers “commit etiquette blunders.” Not good if you are trying to land a deal, especially in this economy. Have any other etiquette tips? We would love to hear them at GAI ( We would hate to offend while processing your tax return! It’s not too late to get your taxes done by a reputable professional. Give us a call at 212-979-6830 or stop by for a visit. We are open Monday-Friday 8am-8pm and Saturdays 8am-5pm.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 1, 2011 5:06 pm

    I truly enjoyed reading about the various cultural differences. Answering your phone during a business meeting in Brazil surprised me a bit…and so did going dutch on a bill in France.

    It’s a “small” world…but we are all so different in it! 🙂

    Thank you for sharing.

  2. Natalie Del Valle permalink
    April 4, 2011 1:04 pm

    I was surprised a bit myself learning about all the different cultural customs. It’s funny how different we all truly are.

    Thanks for reading!!! Have a great week!!

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