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The handshake is the common form of greeting. The British might seem a little stiff and formal at first. Avoid prolonged eye contact as it makes people feel uncomfortable. There is still some protocol to follow when introducing people in a business or more formal social situation. This is often a class distinction, with the 'upper class' holding on to the long-standing traditions: Introduce a younger person to an older person. Introduce a person of lower status to a person of higher status. When two people are of similar age and rank, introduce the one you know better to the other person.
Gift Giving Etiquette
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The British exchange gifts between family members and close friends for birthdays and Christmas. The gift need not be expensive, but it should usually demonstrate an attempt to find something that related to the recipient’s interests. If invited to someone's home, it is normal to take along a box of good chocolates, a good bottle of wine or flowers. Gifts are opened when received.
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Unlike many European cultures, the British enjoy entertaining in people their homes. Although the British value punctuality, you may arrive 10-15 minutes later than invited to dinner. However, if going to a restaurant be on time. Table manners are Continental, i.e. the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating. The fork is held tines down so food is scooped on to the back of the fork. This is a skill that takes time to master. Remain standing until invited to sit down. You may be shown to a particular seat. Do not rest your elbows on the table. If you have not finished eating, cross your knife and fork on your plate with the fork over the knife. Indicate you have finished eating by laying your knife and fork parallel across the right side of your plate. Toasts are given at formal meals. When in a pub, it is common practice to pay for a round of drinks for everyone in your group. If invited to a meal at a restaurant, the person extending the invitation usually pays. Do not argue about the check; simply reciprocate at a later time.
First names are not generally used in written communication. Likewise. Most British are masters of understatement and do not use effusive language. Punctuality is important in business situations. if you know that you will be late it is a good idea to telephone and offer your apologies. Written communication follows strict rules of protocol. unless you know the person well. If anything. The younger generation however is very different. Nonetheless. Building Relationships The British can be quite formal and sometimes prefer to work with people and companies they know or who are known to their associates. Most British look for long-term relationships with people they do business with and will be cautious if you appear to be going after a quick deal. Business Meetings If you plan to use an agenda. however the communication style remains more formal. but modest. People shake upon meeting and leaving. Many older businesspeople or those from the 'upper class' rely heavily upon formal use of established protocol. In most cases. they have a marked tendency to use ‘qualifiers’ such as 'perhaps'. Having said that. Most British will not use slang or abbreviations and will think negatively if your communication appears overly familiar. punctuality is often a matter of personal style and emergencies do arise. How meetings are conducted is often determined by the composition of people attending: . ‘possibly’ or 'it could be'. People under the age of 35 may make this move more rapidly than older British. Call if you will be even 5 minutes later than agreed. although they will still be reserved. the British are direct. If you are kept waiting a few minutes. How a letter is closed varies depending upon how well the writer knows the recipient. Wait until invited before moving to a first-name basis. E-mail is now much more widespread. their style may be more informal. the people you are meeting will be on time. Business cards are exchanged at the initial introduction without formal ritual. Most people use the courtesy titles or Mr. networking and relationship building are often key to long-term business success. Mrs or Miss and their surname.Greetings • • • • • • • A firm handshake is the norm. The business card may be put away with only a cursory glance so don’t be offended if not much attention is paid to it. than in many other countries. The British Communication Style The British have an interesting mix of communication styles encompassing both understatement and direct communication. When communicating with people they see as equal to themselves in rank or class. Written communication is always addressed using the person's title and their surname. be sure to forward it to your British colleagues in sufficient time for them to review it and recommend any changes. they do not need long-standing personal relationships before they do business with people and do not require an intermediary to make business introductions. Scots are extremely punctual. there are no issues over gender in the UK. at least initially. do not make an issue of it. If communicating with someone they know well. Maintain eye contact during the greeting but avoid anything prolonged.
there is generally a free flow of ideas and opinions.• • If everyone is at the same level. to make decisions. The British rely on facts. If you make a presentation. Maintain eye contact and a few feet of personal space. In general. Make certain your presentation and any materials provided appear professional and well thought out. which may include an agenda. There will be a brief amount of small talk before getting down to the business at hand. meetings will be rather formal: • • • • • • • Meetings always have a clearly defined purpose. After a meeting. avoid making exaggerated claims. Be prepared to back up your claims with facts and figures. . If there is a senior ranking person in the room. that person will do most of the speaking. send a letter summarizing what was decided and the next steps to be taken. rather than emotions.
.Wine is not a good gift if invited for dinner.They will want to know your academic credentials and the amount of time your company has been in business. An honoured guest should return the toast later in the meal. . .Always start with small amounts so you may accept second helpings.Most food is eaten with utensils.Avoid giving white lilies or chrysanthemums.The host gives the first toast. Dining Etiquette .It is firm and swift.Wait until invited before moving to a first-name basis. fold the lettuce on your fork. . . .Gifts are usually opened when received. including sandwiches. . . but not 13. . . . . as these are associated with funerals. . . . .Many Dutch are familiar with doing business with foreigners since the Netherlands has a long history of international trade. starting with the left cheek.If you have not finished eating.the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating. .Do not begin eating until the hostess starts. . accompanied by a smile.Shake hands with everyone individually including children. . . .Remain standing until invited to sit down.Men generally remain standing until all the women have taken their seats. . which is unlucky.Since the Dutch value their personal time. and repetition of your name.The Dutch take a long-term perspective when looking at business.Gifts should be wrapped nicely.Indicate you have finished eating by laying your knife and fork parallel across the right side of your plate. or flowers to the hostess.The important thing is to demonstrate how your relationship would be beneficial for both sides. .Salad is not cut. more bureaucratic companies may still judge you by how you are introduced so it is wise to have a third-party introduction if possible.Meeting and Greeting .Older. Building Relationships & Communication . It is offensive to waste food in the Netherlands. Gift Giving Etiquette .Dining is fairly formal in the Netherlands.Flowers should be given in odd numbers. do not ask them to work late or come in over the .Table manners are Continental -. .Finish everything on your plate.Most Dutch only use first names with family and close friends. . although it is not mandatory.The business community is rather close and most senior level people know one another. a book. cross your knife and fork in the middle of the plate with the fork over the knife. . so be clear what your company's intentions are.Very close friends may greet each other by air kissing near the cheek three times.Do not give pointed items such as knives or scissors as they are considered unlucky. . . You may be shown to a particular seat. a potted plant. as the host may already have selected the wines for dinner.The handshake is the common form of greeting.If invited to a Dutch home bring a box of good quality chocolates.
.They do not use hyperbole.Avoid confrontational behaviour or high. .Your word is your bond and making claims that later prove to be untrue will brand you as unreliable. . . especially in more entrepreneurial companies.Do not try to schedule meetings during the summer (June through August).Being late may mark you as untrustworthy and someone who may not meet other deadlines. . . as this is a common vacation period.Maintain direct eye contact while speaking. . including starting and ending times. .Decisions are often consensus-driven in these cases.Cancelling a meeting at the last minute could jeopardize your business relationship.Decision-making is consensus driven. and likewise they expect to be told yes or no in clear words.The Dutch prefer to get down to business quickly and engage in relatively little small talk. .Always appear modest and do not make exaggerated claims about what you or your company can deliver. The Dutch are detail-oriented and want to understand every innuendo before coming to an agreement. do not demonstrate emotion or use exaggerated hand gestures. . ideas will be discussed quite openly at meetings. Negotiations .They may sound blunt if you come from a culture where communication is more indirect and context driven. .pressure tactics.Contracts are enforced strictly.Communication is direct and to the point. which greatly increases the time involved in reaching a final decision. .In general.The Dutch are extremely direct in their communication. . . .Once a decision is made. yet this is often reserved for family and friends. . . . it will not be changed.Use facts and figures to confirm your statements.Business is conducted slowly.Meetings are rather formal in nature. In business they tend to be reserved and formal. .If you expect to be delayed. Little time is spent on pleasantries.Meetings adhere to strict agendas. Do not attempt to deviate from the agenda. .Punctuality for meetings is taken extremely seriously. . .weekend if you want to foster a good working relationship. with everyone entitled to their opinion. . Anyone who might be affected by the decision is consulted. .Information is shared across departments and corporate strategies and goals are usually communicated to all employees. telephone immediately and offer an explanation. Business Meeting Etiquette .The Dutch are hospitable. . .Make sure your arguments are rational as opposed to emotional. and may seem blunt.They do not touch one another and appreciate it when those they do business with maintain the proper distance.
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