A career in International Management can take you anywhere, from negotiations in Hong Kong to client meetings in Denmark. Executives who want to succeed must be familiar with the business practices, specific laws, and general customs of each country in which they’re working, as well as brush up on the appropriate etiquette.
In our increasingly globalized world, a firm grasp of international etiquette has become ever more important for securing deals and forging connections. What might be considered polite in one country could undo a relationship in another, and vice versa. Following or breaching etiquette can actually define the first impression you leave on new business contacts, and send important signals about how trustworthy, hardworking and serious you and your company are.
While it’s important to do your own detailed research before setting off to any new cultural milieu to conduct business, here’s a brief guide to help you understand how the standards of business etiquette differ from country to country.
Different Business Cultures Can Vary in How Formally They Dress and Speak
One of the first things executives are likely to notice when working in a new culture is how formal or casual people might be in their business dealings. Standards of dress can vary from country to country, with many nations adopting a more formal standard for business, while others, like Sweden or Israel, are more lenient.
Forms of address can vary as well. In countries such as France, Germany, and the UK, business associates tend to use surnames along with the appropriate honorific, like Mr. Smith and Frau Müller. Countries like Ireland, Canada and the United States, however, are likely to strike a more casual tone by using first names.
While these might seem like minor details, students who have completed international management courses know the importance of researching and adhering to these conventions to ensure a good first impression on new contacts.
Business Meetings May Take Different Forms in Different Cultures
The etiquette surrounding business meetings can vary in several ways from culture to culture. Whether or not associates are expected to engage in friendly conversation prior to discussing business is one example, with countries like South Korea, Brazil, and Spain considering it customary. In Russia, Switzerland, and France, however, it is not. Likewise, some countries are likely to tolerate interruptions in a business meeting while others are not, and some stick to a preset agenda while others are likely to deviate. After completing your MBA in International Management you’ll be attending meetings in a variety of international contexts. By knowing what to expect before you walk in, you can be sure to stay in control and focus on what’s important.
Students in International Management understand the importance of being prepared
Graduates with an MBA in International Management Know How to Communicate
One of the biggest differences from country to country can be the norms of communication and how direct or indirect you’re expected to be. In Germany, for example, business communications are expected to be blunt in a way that could be considered rude in some other countries. In contrast, there are high expectations in Japan around being non-confrontational and helping others save face, so a more indirect style of communication is preferred.
All of these differences are things you’ll need to keep in mind while traveling the world and putting the skills you’ve learned in your MBA to use. By being aware and respecting the etiquette, you can always put your best foot forward.
Communicating effectively in a variety of international contexts is an essential skill
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Contact Geneva Business School to learn more about our International Management programs.