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How to make the best impression when doing business overseas

It is no hidden secret that work etiquette differs significantly across the globe. As a result, it is important that employees are made aware of these differences before they work abroad or attend a conference in another country. Here at Santa Fe Relocation, we are taking a closer look at work etiquette around the world and how this may impact assignees and businesses.


In the UK, being on time is a major part of work etiquette and those who fail to arrive on time will meet some agitated faces. This is particularly important for individuals who are obliged to meet strict work commitments, specifically when attending an important conference or making a scheduled telephone call. In addition, it is also common knowledge to avoid prolonged eye contact. While this isn’t as important as being on time, it can make people feel uncomfortable, so this must ideally be avoided.

In addition, employees attending a networking event must exchange business cards at the initial introduction, unlike in Japan. In Japan, individuals are required to undertake a number of steps, including bowing before handing the card over.


There are numerous factors to consider when it comes to adhering to Japanese work etiquette. In Japan, greeting an individual involves bowing with a straight back and both hands at the side. While this is significantly different compared to the standard handshake, the same rules apply in other areas, particularly that it is good to take notes during business meetings. In fact, this helps to show interest in the discussed topic.

In addition, during business meetings, individuals should never write on or fidget with a Japanese business card as this can be seen as disrespectful to the person the business card belongs to.

United States

When conducting business in the United States, individuals should adjust to US business etiquette in conversation, whether that is greeting the individual or avoiding standing too close. Just like in the United Kingdom, it is considered to be significantly rude to answer a telephone call or send an email during a meeting. Furthermore, during these meetings, it is likely that Americans will use dramatic facial expressions to create the effect they desire. Compared to other parts of the world, such as in the United Kingdom, business meetings can in fact be considered more casual in some cases and are permitted to take place during lunch or dinner.


Australian citizens are likely to make a decision based on factual information instead of what is trending. Compared to the United Kingdom, Australian schedules tend to be more relaxed, meaning that it is not necessarily considered rude if employees turn up late to a business meeting. Nevertheless, not meeting a deadline is considered to be unprofessional. As a result, it is essential that each deadline is met on time regardless.

Business culture can differ from country to country, so it is important to ensure that your employees are aware of the differences before heading abroad to attending a meeting, a conference or to work. For more information on how we can assist your team during the relocation process, get in touch with a member of our expert team on 0208 961 4141, today.

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