Business Etiquette

Manila Bulletin, September 10, 2010 | Go to article overview

Business Etiquette


MANILA, Philippines - Our Filipino exporters are realizing now that to be globally competitive it is not enough to know the latest preferences of the foreign buyers. It is equally important to know about the culture, the language and the history of the country of the foreign buyers.

In today's multicultural and global business environment, the Filipino exporters as well as other businessmen dealing in the international business should be sensitive to the customs and cultural traits of the foreigners with whom they do business with. Business deals are possibly won or lost at literally the first greeting. Disregarding and ignoring these protocol practices in a global context would be disastrous. This being the situation, the cultural traits are in effect integral parts of business. This is the reason too why business is more than just business.

There are a thousand and one blunders in the world of international behavior that are committed every day not only in our country but in other countries as well.

It is important to learn about protocol, courtesies, comportment, and behavior. The key word etiquette is of French origin. The French phrase savior faire signifies being cool and composed. Exporters should also know about cultural stereo-types, about expectations, about idiosyncracies and about customs of their prospective and existing buyers.

What then is the profile of the international businessmen today? He must be multi-environment, multi-country, multi-cultural, and multi-functional. The business executive must learn how to make his foreign buyers/guests feel comfortable. Also to respect their protocol. In short, he must value "personal relationship."

Socializing, friendships, etiquette, grace, patience, protocol, and a whole list of other such cultural traits are indeed integral parts of business. Proving too that business is more than just business.

Here are some areas of protocol that make or make business deals: Handshaking and the art of introduction; entertaining and hosting; gift-giving; social drinking; dining and eating differences and peculiarities; taboos in conversation; greeting remarks; gestures and body languages; cultural stereotypes, business cards; the use of first names; concern for time and punctuality; dressing properly; telephone etiquette; dealing with women in business; and the use of interpreters.

Negotiating, entertaining and protocol are so interwoven and it is difficult to separate one from the other.

Not a few exporters and other businessmen are aware that there are some foreigners who do not eat pork because of their religion. …

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