Business, Without Borders
By Ja’Nala Mamdu
Do you know why you should never cross your legs when visiting Thailand, Or why you should always accept a cup of coffee in Saudi Arabia when offered.
I, was invited to my dear friend’s house for dinner. The food was a banquet of delicacies from all over the world that she prepared herself. My friend was a fashion designer and traveled around the world buying the most beautiful of fabrics for her designer boutique.
I, as well, as most of her of her other guest; were sitting on these round cushions. She had a name for them but, I have since forgotten the official name for them. When suddenly she let out the loudest burp followed with breaking wind, about three in succession!
She rose from her cushion and said please relieve the pressure, as she walked out of the room to get the coffee and dessert. We all just sat there, looking dumb founded and some had covered their noses.
There was incense burning so the stench did not last long. When she arrived back with apple, cherry and pineapple dumplings and coffee on a beautiful silver cart; she sat down and began asking, what has everybody been up to?
Being me… I asked “What was that?” What was what dear? “The breaking of wind and that god awful burp,” she started laughing and then apologized stating that she forgot where she was.
She explained “while she lived in China she became accustom to releasing built up gas, before leaving the dinner setting. It is a sign that tells your host the food was satisfying and good a cultural thing. This has always stayed in the back of my mind for when, I ever travel to China.
There are many other cultural dos and don’ts to avoid if you want a successful business deal to go off without a hitch.
• In Asian countries, it is considered bad luck to leave your chop sticks standing up in a bowl of rice.
• A Canadian business man may bow to a Japanese business man.
• A Taiwanese businesswoman understanding the culture may kiss a Brazilian business man on the cheek at their first meeting. However, would not kiss the cheek of a Taiwanese business man or business woman.
• In China the word DEATH, is not mentioned. Where in Mexico they have a celebration “The Day of the Dead.
• In a Muslim Country men are not to shake a woman’s hand.
The Pioneer researcher Edward Tylor, said in 1871 “that culture is the outward expression of a unifying and consistent vision brought by a particular community to its confrontation with such core issues, as the origins of the cosmos, the harsh unpredictability of the natural environment, the nature of society and humankind’s place in the order of things.”
• “It is essential for people in business to understand cultural differences.”
Understanding & respecting another’s culture, is the beginning of building a cohesive universe that works together.
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