Business and Social Customs: Chapter 9

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Business and Social Customs: Chapter 9

Business and Social Customs: Chapter 9

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  • 1. Chapter 9Business and Social Customs Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 2. Topics• Greeting and Handshaking Customs• Verbal Expressions• Male and Female Relationships/Workplace Equality• Humor in Business• Superstitions and Taboos• Dress and Appearance• Customs Associated with Holidays and Holy Days• Office Customs and Practices• Customary Demeanor/Behavior• Bribery• Special Foods and Consumption Taboos Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 3. Customs• Customs are behaviors generally expected in specific situations; they are established, socially acceptable ways of behaving in given circumstances.• Examples of U.S. customs include eating turkey on Thanksgiving and starting presentations with a joke. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 4. Greeting and Handshaking Customs• U.S. persons are informal in their greetings, often saying “Hi” to complete strangers.• U.S. greeting behavior is ritualistic; upon arriving at work, one person says: “Good morning, how are you?” to which the other person responds: “Fine, thank you, and how are you?”• Embracing is inappropriate as a form of greeting in the U.S., but in Latin America people embrace after a handshake.• Bowing is the customary form of greeting in Japan. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 5. Handshakes•U.S. •Firm•Asians •Gentle (except for Koreans whohave a firm handshake)•British • Soft•French • Light and quick; repeated upon arrival and departure•Germans • Firm; repeated upon arrivaland departure•Hispanics • Moderate grasp; repeatedfrequently•Middle Easterners • Gentle; repeated frequently Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 6. Verbal ExpressionsLearn phrases in the country’s language: • Hello • Goodbye • Please • I’m sorry • I am having a great time • Thank you so much • No, thank you • This is such a delightful country Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 7. Verbal Expressions• In the U.S. people often respond to someone with a one-word reply: “sure,” “okay,” and “nope.” Such brevity seems blunt by foreign standards; it is simply an indication of the informality typical of U.S. persons.• People in the Southern U.S. will often say “Y’all come to see us” when bidding someone goodbye. The expected reply is “Thanks! Y’all come to see us, too.” This verbal exchange is only a friendly ritual. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 8. Verbal Expressions• “Don’t mention it” and “Think nothing of it,” in response to a courtesy or favor, are viewed by persons of other cultures as rude. When being thanked for a courtesy, a response of “You are welcome” is preferable.• “What’s up?” and “How’s it going?” make no sense to persons for whom English is a second language. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 9. Verbal ExpressionsA newcomer to the U.S. did not accept a jobon the “graveyard shift” since he thought he would be working in a cemetery. Dresser, Multicultural Manners
  • 10. Verbal Expressions - Chitchat• Chitchat (small talk or light conversation) is important in getting to know someone.• Chitchat often includes comments about the weather, the physical surroundings, the day’s news or almost anything of a nonsubstantive nature.• People of the U.S. excel at small talk; so do Canadians, Australians, the British, and the French. Chaney & Martin Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed.,
  • 11. Verbal Expressions - Chitchat• Small talk seems to pose problems for people of some cultures. Germans, for example, simply do not believe in it. Swedes, usually fluent in English, have little to say in addition to talking about their jobs. The Japanese are frightened by the idea of small talk as are people of Finland, who actually buy books on the art of small talk.Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin Intercultural
  • 12. Verbal Expressions - Chitchat• When engaging in chitchat with someone of another culture, the best advice is probably to follow the other person’s lead. If they talk about their family, then you would talk about yours. If they initiate political discussions, you would join in the discourse. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 13. Male and Female Relationships• In high-context societies, such as the Arab culture, people have definite ideas on what constitutes proper behavior between males and females.• In low-context cultures, such as the U.S., little agreement exists. Thus, both people of the U.S. and visitors from other cultures have difficulty knowing how to proceed in male- female relationships in the U.S. since a wide range of behaviors may be observed. Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin Intercultural
  • 14. Male and Female Relationships• Acceptable male/female relationships in any culture involve stereotypes.• A stereotype of U.S. women is that they are domineering and “loose” (have no inhibitions regarding sexual relationships with a variety of men). Correspondingly, American men are viewed as weak who permit women to dominate them. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 15. Male and Female Relationships• Stereotypes of women in other cultures include that Asian women are nonassertive and submissive.• A stereotype of Latin American males is that they are predatory and constantly pursue women for sexual relationships. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 16. “One tall and handsome Middle Eastern graduatestudent said he had come to the States with the notionthat women were readily available for sexualactivities with people such as himself. Everythingthat happened to him during his first two years in theStates confirmed his opinion. After about two years,though, he began to realize that the women who wereso readily available were not representative of thewhole society. They were a certain type of person -insecure, socially marginal, apparently unable to findsatisfactory relationships with American men, so theyturned to foreign students.” Althen, American Ways
  • 17. Male and Female Relationships• Some U.S. men feel threatened by the more assertive roles many women are assuming. However, most people accept the fact that men and women can work side by side in the workplace and that they can have a friendship which does not have a sexual component. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 18. Workplace Equality• In Mexico, treatment of men and women in the workplace differs substantially from that of the U.S. Male supervisors customarily kiss their female secretaries on the cheek each morning or embrace them.• Despite this custom, seen as undue familiarity by U.S. managers, problems with sexual harassment and gender discrimination are uncommon according to Mexican managers. (However, U.S. managers interviewed reported the opposite.) Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 19. Humor in Business• Using humorous anecdotes is a way of breaking the ice and establishing a relaxed atmosphere prior to getting down to business in international meetings.• In the U.S., presentations are often started with a joke or cartoon related to the topic. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 20. Humor in Business• Most European countries also use humor during business meetings.• Asian humor finds little merit in jokes about sex, religion, or minorities; they take what is said quite literally and do not understand American humor.• Germans, too, find humor out of place during business meetings. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 21. Humor in Business• Perhaps jokes should be avoided around persons of diverse cultures; American humor is hard to export and appreciate.• Even though the intention of humor was to put your international colleagues at ease and create a more relaxed environment, the risk of offending someone of another culture, or of telling a story that no one understands, is great.• In short, we do not all laugh at the same thing. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 22. A New York businessman, who frequently traveled to Japan onbusiness, often used a translator for his speeches. After one suchspeech, he learned that the Japanese interpreter’s version of hisopening remarks went like this:“American businessman is beginning speech with thing calledjoke. I am not sure why, but all American businessmen believe itnecessary to start speech with joke. (Pause) He is telling jokenow but frankly you would not understand joke so I will nottranslate it. He thinks I am telling you joke now. Polite thing todo when he finishes is to laugh. (Pause) He is getting close.(Pause) Now!”The audience not only laughed appreciatively but stood andapplauded as well. Later he commented to the translator: “I’vebeen giving speeches in this country for several years, and youare the first translator who knows how to tell a good joke.” Axtell, Dos and Taboos of Hosting International Visitors
  • 23. Superstitions and Taboos• Superstitions are beliefs that are inconsistent with the known laws of science or what a society considers true and rational.• Examples of superstitions include a belief that special charms, omens, or rituals have supernatural powers. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 24. Superstitions• Superstitions, which are treated rather casually in Europe and North America, are taken quite seriously in other cultures.• In parts of Asia, fortune telling and palmistry are considered influential in the lives and business dealings of the people. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 25. Superstitions• In many cultures, bad luck and even death are associated with certain numbers.• People of the U.S. think that 13 is an unlucky number. – Most American hotels do not have a thirteenth floor, and even a hotel number ending in 13 may be refused. – Friday the thirteenth is perceived as an unlucky day. Many U.S. persons will not schedule important events, such as weddings or major surgery, on this day. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 26. Superstitions• The Chinese, who also believe that good luck or bad is associated with certain numbers, feel that four is the most negative number, because it sounds like the word for death. – Hotels in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan often have no fourth floor. – Some Asian airports have no Gate 4. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 27. Superstitions• Conversely, according to Chinese beliefs, some numbers have positive meanings. For example, the number six represents happiness and nine represents long life.• The numbers of people in a photograph will also have significance. Many Chinese people believe that having three people in a photograph will result in dire consequences, that the middle person will die. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 28. SuperstitionsSuperstitions held by persons in some cultures include: – What happens on New Year’s Day foretells what will happen for the entire year. – Attaching old shoes to the car of newlyweds assures fertility. – Walking under a ladder will bring bad luck as will breaking a mirror. – Giving too much attention to a newborn would place the child in jeopardy; the evil spirits will harm the baby if it receives too much attention. – Putting your purse on the floor will result in your money running away. Bosrock, Put Your Best Foot Forward
  • 29. Taboos• Taboos are practices or verbal expressions considered by a society or culture as improper or unacceptable.• Taboos are rooted in the beliefs of the people of a specific region or culture and are passed down from generation to generation. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 30. Taboos• In Arab countries, it is considered taboo to ask about the health of a man’s wife.• In Taiwan, messages should not be written in red ink, as this has death connotations.• Writing a person’s name in red also has negative associations in Korea, parts of Mexico, and among some Chinese. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 31. An American English teacher made commentsand constructive criticisms in red ink on herstudents’ papers. While U.S. students wereaccustomed to this practice, her Koreanstudents were not. These red-inked notes sentshock waves through the families of Koreanstudents, who associated red ink with death.When the families told the principal of thistaboo, he asked all teachers to refrain fromusing red ink on any student’s paper. Theychanged to other colors. Dresser, Multicultural Manners
  • 32. Dress and AppearanceThe general rule everywhere is thatfor business you should be“Buttoned up”: conservative suitand tie for men, dress or skirtedsuit for women. Axtell, Dos and Taboos Around the World
  • 33. Cultural Differences in Dress and Appearance• In Canada, people dress more conservatively and formally than people in the U.S.• In Europe, business dress is very formal; coats and ties are required, and jackets stay on at all times.• In Japan, dress is also formal. Women dress very conservatively and wear muted colors to the office. Casual attire is usually inappropriate. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 34. • In the Philippines, men wear the barong, a loose, white or cream-colored shirt with tails out, no jacket or tie.• In Saudi Arabia, the traditional Arabic white, flowing robe and headcloth may be worn. However, U.S. persons should not attempt to dress in a like manner.• Color of clothing is an important consideration. Do not wear black, purple, or solid white in Thailand. Avoid wearing all white in the People’s Republic of China as white is the symbol of mourning. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 35. • Shoes are considered inappropriate in certain situations in various cultures. They should not be worn within Muslim mosques and Buddhist temples. Shoes should be removed when in a Japanese home. In the Arab culture, the soles of your feet should not be shown.• Women should be especially careful to conform to local customs. In Arab countries, women should avoid wearing pants and should wear clothes that give good coverage. In Europe, women do not wear pants to the office or to nice restaurants.• As a general rule for business, dress conservatively. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 36. Business Casual Dress• Business dress in U.S. firms became increasingly casual in the 1990’s, but the trend appears to be over.• Casual attire is the norm in such countries as the Philippines and Indonesia where shirts are worn without ties or jackets.• Sweden has the greatest percentage of companies with casual dress policies while England has the smallest percent. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 37. At a Washington firm, a group ofJapanese businessmen who came for ameeting on a Friday found a room fullof casually dressed people. They madea hasty retreat, believing they had thewrong office. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 38. Holidays and Holy Days That May Affect Business•U.S. •Canada –Christmas Day –Canada Day –Thanksgiving –Labor Day –Independence Day –All Saints Day (July 4) –Christmas Day –New Years Day –Boxing Day –Sunday Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 39. •France •Germany –Mardi Gras –Good Friday –Liberation Day –Ascension –Ascension –Whit Monday –Bastille Day –Day of German –World War I Unity Armistice Day –Day of Prayer and Repentance Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 40. •England •Mexico –May Day –St. Anthonys Day –Easter Sunday and Monday –Carnival Week –Spring Bank Holiday –Birthday of Benito Juarez –Summer Bank Holiday –Cinco de Mayo –Late Summer Holiday –Corpus Christi –Christmas –Columbus Day –Boxing Day –Day of the Virgin•Japan Guadalupe –Coming of Age Day –National Foundation Day –Vernal Equinox –Greenery Day –Childrens Day –Respect for the Aged Day Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 41. •The Netherlands •South Korea –Queen Beatrix’s –The New Year Birthday –The Lunar New Year –Liberation Day –Independence Day –Christmas –Buddha’s Birthday –New Year’s Day –Memorial Day –Constitution Day –Liberation Day –Harvest Moon Festival –National Foundation Day –Christmas Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 42. •Taiwan •China –Founding Day –New Year’s Day –Chinese Lunar New Year –Chinese Lunar New Year –Birthday of Confucius and Spring Festival –Double Ten National Day –International Working –Taiwan Restoration Day Woman’s Day –Constitution Day –Labor Day –Youth Day –Children’s Day –Founding of the Communist Party of China –People’s Liberation Army Day –National Day Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 43. Office Customs and Practices• Usual hours of work in U. S. offices are 9 to 5.• In Iran, business hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.• In some South American countries, such as Brazil and Colombia, the work week is 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday (12 noon to 2 p.m. lunch). Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 44. Office Customs and Practices• Peru has one of the longest workweeks in the world: 48 hours with businesses open at least six days a week.• The lunch period in U.S. firms varies from 30 minutes to an hour; break times are usually one 15-minute period in the morning and a second 15- minute period in the afternoon.• Europeans have a 1 - to 1 1/2 - hour lunch break, 20 minute morning and afternoon breaks (often including beer or wine) and 15 minutes at the end of the workday for cleanup time. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 45. Office Customs and Practices• Hiring and firing practices vary according to the culture.• In the U.S. hiring and firing are based on job effectiveness and job performance; no job is permanent.• In Europe everyone in the firm has a contract that virtually guarantees permanent employment regardless of the financial condition of the company. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 46. Office Customs and Practices• Likewise, in such countries as Japan, employees consider their jobs to be permanent.• Employees who are dismissed receive generous severance pay by U.S. standards.• The degree of formality or informality found in U.S. offices varies; in major corporations, more formality often exists than in small companies in rural areas. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 47. U.S. Demeanor/Behavior• Be punctual. Most persons in the U.S. will feel offended if you are more than 10 minutes late.• If you agree to meet someone, keep the appointment.• Treat females with the same respect given males.• Treat clerks, waiters, secretaries, taxi drivers with the same courtesy you would show someone of rank and position. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 48. • When talking, keep an arm’s length away. U.S. persons do not like for people to get too close.• Avoid bowing and other behavior that is intended to display respect as most Americans are most uncomfortable with such displays.• Do not speak loudly in public places except at sports events and similar outdoor events.• Keep to the right when walking in malls or on the street. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 49. • Do not touch other people in public. (Pushing your way through a crowd is considered quite rude.)• Wait your turn when standing in line at the post office, bank, or theatre. Give priority to the first person who arrives (rather than to people who are older or wealthier).• Do not block traffic; do not block someone’s view at a ballgame or other public events. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 50. • Be considerate of nonsmokers; many buildings in the U.S. are smoke free.• The U.S. is a "do-it-yourself country; no social stigma is attached to doing ones own daily chores, no matter how menial.• U.S. persons have certain customs surrounding special holidays: Staying up until midnight on New Years Eve; having turkey and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 51. Bribery• Bribery is the giving or promising of something, often money, to influence another person’s actions.• While bribery is not officially sanctioned or condoned in any country, it is unofficially a part of business in many cultures and is considered neither unethical nor immoral in a number of countries. In Nigeria, for example, one must pay the customs agents to leave the airport, while in Thailand and Indonesia getting a driver’s licenseed., Chaney & Martin giving Intercultural Business Communication, 4th involves
  • 52. Bribery• The U.S. has the most restrictive laws against bribery in the world. Companies found guilty of paying bribes to foreign officials can be fined up to $1 million, and guilty employees may be fined up to $10,000.• Many U.S. competitors, including Italian, German, and Japanese firms, not only use bribery in international transactions but may deduct the amount of the bribe on their taxes as a necessary business expense. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 53. Bribery• As business becomes more globalized, different perceptions exist regarding the appropriateness of certain incentives.• What is perceived as bribery is culturally relative just as a person’s conscience can become “culturally conditioned.”• What is considered a tip (to ensure promptness) in one culture is considered illegal in another. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 54. Bribery• Professional go-betweens are sometimes hired to assure that the proper persons are tipped to avoid delays in approvals and delivery. People of the U.S. cannot, of course, be involved in paying these commissions; this responsibility would be left with the local joint-venture partner or distributor. Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 55. Unusual Foods• U.S. - corn-on-the-cob, grits, popcorn, marshmallows, crawfish• South Korea - dog meat• Saudi Arabia - sheeps eyeballs• Mexico - chickens feet in chicken soup• China - ducks feet• Russia - Danish pastry stuffed with raw cabbage Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin
  • 56. More Business Travelers are Going GlobalMaster of five languages, PatrickLarbuisson eats sheep intestines tohelp grease business deals in SaudiArabia. He swallows with a smile butis "sick like hell the next day." (Atleast he knew the rule to follow: eatwhat you are offered.) Jones, USA Today
  • 57. Consumption Taboos• U.S. - horse meat, dog meat• Strict Muslims - pork and alcohol• Orthodox Jews - pork, shellfish, meat and milk together• Hindus - beef Intercultural Business Communication, 4th ed., Chaney & Martin