I’m lucky in that outside my local tube station there is a metal stand dispensing the City AM newspaper – along with hundreds of Metro ones which aren’t even picked up; does editor George Osborne not understand waste and climate change? Anyway, the little business daily is right up my street, useful for my morning commentary, and I can usually get through the bulk of it by the time I’m in the City.
This month Sheela Mackintosh-Stewart penned a piece entitled: ‘A global guide to business etiquette’. With a legal-eagle background, her name gives no inkling that she speaks fluent Cantonese, Malay and Mandarin. What prompted me to write this piece is that recently I was at a technical analysis presentation, delivered on a MacBook Pro – where I recognised the bottom strap with many of the icons I have on mine. What jarred was that along there was EBay. Is that business appropriate, I thought? Should I edit out as much personal stuff as possible? I wasn’t sure.
One of the many hurdles facing young people starting their careers, and older folk setting up their own consultancies or just trying to keep pace with the changing face of business, I attach a link so you can read the article in full.
She kicks off reminding us to get people’s names right. In Japan this starts with a careful – and respectful – look at the proffered business card. (An artistic colleague at Mizuho Bank later used to later draw cartoon faces on these to remind her of what they looked like). In some Asian countries the family’s name comes before the individual’s name, like President Xi Jinping or Kim Jong Un.
Greetings usually involve a handshake, a bow or a kiss – something women don’t always relish and likewise some men prefer not to shake women’s hands; with friends a wave or a hug is acceptable. I remember as a child my mother teaching my sister and I how to curtsey – which was the correct form of greeting for girls with their elders; thankfully that has gone the way of the dinosaur, except perhaps in rarefied royal circles.
Punctuality, preparation, courtesy and careful body language are all issues to consider. Quite a minefield.