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Doing Business In… Great Britain

Cultural awareness can help expand the mindset of someone. As the worlds cultures become more integrated, learning the behaviors of other can help expand business practices and ethical standards. This is a look at some of the business practices of Great Britain more specifically the greetings, communication styles, and concepts of time.

The greeting style of Britain is unlike that of other European countries. The formal handshake is the standard business greeting. A firm handshake with initial eye contact is expected, but do not prolong eye contact as it may produce some feelings of discomfort. If you are male, it is customary to remove your hat after entering a person’s residence. Along with the handshake, asking “How do you do?” would be compared to the rhetorical question “How are you?” in America.

The British style of communication is one that should not be very evasive, although it may seem that way. As the British people are extremely conscious of offending the other party with extreme bluntness in delivery, when one disagrees with what is being presented it is customary do not directly say this. One might give a complement as to a positive portion of the idea given, then follow that up with the issue they have; this is a diplomatic way of speaking when doing business with individuals from England. In addition, humor is used as a tension release mechanism, a non-emotional way to address a tense situation.

Punctuality is valued in British business. If a meeting is arranged at a specific time, it is expected for both parties to either be early or on time. If there is a delay of less than five minutes, typically an apology is acceptable, however if someone is late past five minutes, a phone call or email informing of the delay is expected. This is a great example showing the importance of time. Being time conscious helps with productivity as time is looked at as an economic resource.

Sources: One, Two, Three, Four

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