Though the concept of time is the same all around the world, different countries handle time differently in business settings.
Argentina- In Argentina, if you are 5 minutes late to a business meeting, you will probably be the first one to get there. It is considered rude to begin a business meeting right on time, there should be small talk at first.
Australia- In Australia, it is crucial to be on time to a business meeting. Even a minute late is considered rude and unprofessional.
Russia- In Russia, punctuality is very important when starting a business meeting but timeliness is not as important when ending the meeting. The meeting won’t end till all matters are taken care of.
When having communication in a business environment, some cultures prefer direct communication while others may prefer indirect communication. While being direct is honest and to the point, being indirect may spare someone’s feelings.
Germany- In Germany, people are very to the point, but especially in business. They say it how it is instead of cushioning it and often times are extremely serious. Don’t confuse this bluntness with rudeness though.
Japan and India- In India and Japan, it is rude to use the word “no”. Instead you might change the subject or not answer the question at all to signify that it is not a yes.
China- In China, it is part of the culture to listen instead of speak, to learn from others, making it a very indirect environment. It is rude to tell the other person they are wrong in a disagreement and they very rarely will use the word “no”.
If there are plans to go out to eat while doing business in a different country, it’s a good idea to do your research beforehand. Etiquette at the table is important but there are different rules all over the world.
Japan- In Japan, when eating with business counterparts it is expected that you know how to use chopsticks and the rules of setting them down, too. Don’t ever leave the chopsticks in your food, instead lean them against your bowl or in the chopstick holder.
France- In France, it is rude to ask for more cheese for your dish. It is also rude to split the bill.
China- In China, burping is a sign of appreciation for the meal and completely acceptable.
Spain- In Spain, do not drink water with soup. It is believed that it will make your stomach hurt and is distasteful.
Different countries often have different ways of doing things. Here are a few examples that may seem odd but are completely normal in different cultures.
Finland - In Finland, it is not bizarre to have business meetings in a sauna. This is actually an establishment of a relationship between business partners.
France - In France, when doing business, if you do not know French they expect an apology. Not apologizing is considered rude.
China, France, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey- It is extremely rude and distasteful to blow your nose in public. Even though blowing your nose isn’t given much thought in the United States, it could be the equivalent of using the restroom in public in those countries.
United Kingdom - In the United Kingdom, if something of secrecy is going to be said in the business meeting, they will tap their nose twice before saying it.
Israel - In Israel the work week begins on Sunday and ends on Thursday. Weekend days are Friday and Saturday.