General Considerations

  • Culture
  • Politics
  • Security
  • Climate
  • Health & safety
  • Vaccines / medical
  • Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Language barriers
  • Location taxation

Every country has its own culture and nuances of behaviour that they find acceptable.

Time researching cultural differences and international etiquette is invaluable, as good communication can significantly affect costs, time, logistics or even whether you are allowed to film or not.

Some common areas of differences are:

Communication

In some cultures, people can be loud and direct and tend to interrupt others during a conversation, whereas in other cultures they can be softly spoken, use indirect language and always wait for others to finish what they are saying.  Matching these communication styles can show respect.

Valuing Time

Some cultures are very precise with their time; they expect meetings to take place when arranged, starting and finishing exactly to timetable and will be offended if people are late.  Other cultures are very relaxed with time, often organising several meetings to take place at the same time and are offended if they are rushed.

Dress Code

Some countries have strict dress codes; in particular, Muslim countries require women to be modestly dressed.

Personal Space

In some countries, people (men as well) can be very touchy feely with each other.  Hugs could be a regular way for men to greet male business colleagues, but for men to greet female business colleagues in the same way could be a huge faux pas. In other countries, any physical contact is deemed inappropriate.

Business Cards

In Arab and some Asian countries, it is important never to use your left hand to accept a business card, as this hand is reserved for personal hygiene.  In other Asian countries, such as China (including Hong Kong), Japan and Singapore, you give or receive business cards with both hands, often accompanied by a small box.  Writing on a business card, bending it or not looking at it before putting it away can be seen as disrespectful and could therefore damage the potential for future business relationships.

Gifts – Giving & Receiving

The etiquettes for giving or receiving gifts differ significantly across the world.  In some cultures, gifts are an important part of business relationships, however in other cultures, to offer gifts can be an insult or illegal if it is considered a Bribe (see Bribery Act).