Social and business etiquette

A Japanese proverb says…

If you are fortunate to have the enjoyable experience of eating something new, your life will be lengthened by seventy-five years.

  1. For many cultures part of the business deal is being an excellent host.
  2. In many countries, it is customary for the host to be modest and humble; he will give apologies for inferior food etc.
  3. Some cultures’ greetings are ‘Have you eaten (rice)?’ (= How are you?)
  4. Offer Koreans food 3 times: they will refuse twice and accept third time!
  5. A warm or cold wet towel, an ‘oshibori’, is often given to cleanse your hands. It’s acceptable for men to wipe their faces with it. (Japanese restaurants rarely have napkins).
  6. Always try the food you are offered. They say in Greece, you must always accept the alcohol you are given in a business meeting!!!!
  7. As an honoured guest, you will be offered the most special delicacies. Unfortunately, there will be times when you think they aren’t! Consider carefully your reaction—a refusal may be interpreted as an insult.
  8. Some cultures, like the Japanese, have turned dining into an art form. Take care to appreciate the food you are offered in whatever culture you are in.
  9. Far East: no one can leave before the guest of honour.
  10. In the US, it is courteous to accept compliments and always polite to give compliments with ‘gusto’.
  11. In the Far East, humility is a virtue. It is courteous to deny compliments graciously; avoid extending excessive compliments.
  12. Keep track of all favours done for you, to reciprocate in the future
  13. It’s an honour to be invited to play golf by your Japanese host.
  14. It’s an honour to be invited to the home of a Spaniard.
  15. It is generally considered good manners, in any culture, for a host to escort visitors as they leave; the distance depends on the relationship—obviously a very senior person doesn’t escort a junior one very far. In Japan, a host will watch until his visitor has pulled away in the car/bus, or is out of sight.
  16. For many nations, tipping is an essential part of the economy. As a guide, never tip in egalitarian societies like Finland and Iceland. Tip in societies where there are great differences in social standing. It is often better to tip a little bit every meal/day than do it ‘all in one go’ at the end of your stay.
  17. Don’t start your business presentation with a joke unless you are certain this is acceptable. Many cultures believe it shows disrespect and demeans the event.

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