When traveling abroad, there are international meeting protocol dos and taboos in every country-specific situation. One of the most common mistakes people who travel abroad for meetings make is the disregard for local body language, posture, facial expressions and gestures. Some are appropriate in one country but offensive in another. For example, the OK sign gesture (making a circle with the thumb and index finger) is common in the U.S. but extremely offensive in Brazil.

Feet can be an issue, too. “Don’t cross your legs in Japan, or point your feet at someone in China, or show the bottom of your feet in the Arab world if you want to establish a business relationship,” 

In most of Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, Italy and Africa, silence to process information is highly valued. That can prove challenging for businesspeople from the U.S., Germany, Britain, Canada and Scandinavian countries who tend to talk more than listen and fill the silence gap — often giving away too much information.

Punctuality is very important in some countries like Singapore and Switzerland, and so arriving late even by a few minutes can get things started off on the wrong foot,” says Doug Bruhnke, CEO and founder of Global Chamber, (GlobalChamber.org) a firm that helps companies grow more effectively across cities, between countries and globally. “Conduct a country-specific meeting briefing beforehand and be careful not to over-generalize.”

Consider conducting a short role-play session. Let travelers know where a specific cultural difference lies and offer tips on how to adapt. “It’s important to show discipline and demonstrate respect for cultural differences,” Bruhnke says. “This may range from the initial greeting to include a handshake or bow plus business card exchange, all the way through conducting the meeting, leaving the room and following up in ways that are comfortable for each culture.” 


Read the entire article: “International MeetingsFrom Culture and Customs to Contracts and Compliance There’s a World of Concern to Consider

Global Do’s and Taboos: Excerpts by Gloria Petersen and Doug Bruhnke Source: Insurance & Financial Meetings Management: The Executive Source for Planning Meetings and Incentives TheMeetingMagazines.com