What is Canadian Etiquette at Work

International business etiquette - Dos & Don’ts

Different countries, different customs: cultures are different and, at the latest, when you have business meetings with international partners, it is important to be familiar with one or the other international approach. But how exactly is business etiquette in other countries? What is allowed and what should you avoid? We have summarized the most important etiquette rules for Asia, America, but also for our neighboring European countries for you.

In Asian countries in particular, behavior differs from ours not only in private, but above all in the world of work. But even business appointments with business partners from the USA can be a bit strange for us Germans at first.


The country striving for happiness and harmony attaches great importance to its traditions. Modesty and respect play an important role in good interpersonal relationships.


Team spirit is very important in Japan and that is why you should never master business meetings on your own. With a few small rules in mind, you and your team will be convincing.


If you want to play it safe in Singapore, follow the business etiquette of China and Japan. Singapore will appear very western to you at first glance, but Asian customs are still very important.


Finding general rules for India is almost impossible. Many different cultures within the country bring with them many different customs. But there are also some similarities here:


Indonesia is the land of smiling people. The Indonesians are a very relaxed and polite people. With a little patience you will get used to the customs of the country and you will be able to cut a slice of the relaxed nature yourself.

United Arab Emirates

The land of luxury: A business trip to the United Arab Emirates is definitely worth it. Because, thanks to your Arab business partners, you will also experience one or the other in your free time.

United States

Coconut meets peach. The personality to us Germans couldn't be more different. At first glance, a meeting can seem like a nice round of friends: An extensive small talk at the beginning, during which everyone uses their name. But don't let that irritate you, you are still on the same professional level as at a German meeting and the Duzen is by no means a friendly offer. The Americans are simply a little more relaxed.


In Canada you have it all the easier. The customs hardly differ from ours. Canadians prefer direct communication and quick resolution of matters. They also strictly separate private and professional matters and punctuality is particularly important to them.

However, there are a few special features:

  • The pace of negotiations is even faster than ours, which is why you should always answer messages quickly.
  • Politeness, tolerance and openness are very important to Canadians. It is better to apologize and say thank you once too often than too little.
  • In the case of private invitations, you should leave business topics alone.
  • Always start your own opinions and criticism with something positive.
  • The typical greeting is: "How are you" - "Thanks, I'm fine". Here, too, the actual condition is not reported. It is just an empty phrase that makes it easier to start a conversation.


With Australian businesses, you can get straight to the point. As in the USA and Canada, the classic "How are you" should be used when greeting. You should introduce yourself with your first and last name. Later only the first name will be mentioned at all hierarchical levels. But don't take this as a friendly offer either.

In addition, the following applies:

  • Australians prefer to keep in touch by phone. That is why it happens that an e-mail is lost and not answered.
  • Punctuality is also very important to them.
  • You shouldn't skimp on “Sorry” and “Thank you” here either.
  • Thumbs up is considered obscene and shouldn't be shown.
  • There is no strong separation between personal and professional life in Australia. A private invitation is therefore not uncommon.
  • At business lunches, you shouldn't be surprised: Due to the strict liquor license in Australia, it is common to bring the alcohol into the restaurant yourself.


Cheek kisses and hugs: things get sociable and colorful in Brazil. As a woman, you can finally take off your conservative business clothes, because showing skin and color is quite normal here. You don't have to ignore modesty in Brazil either. You are proud of what you can do and what you are.

Differences in international business etiquette definitely have nothing to do with distance from the country. Even in our neighboring countries there are quite a few differences that you should know for a successful cooperation.


It gets warm and heated with the Italians. Interrupting the word is just as much a part of it as detailed reports about your own family before turning to business.

The following also applies:

  • Unlike in the USA, for example, the question of well-being is not answered at all.
  • Titles or job titles are not mentioned in the personal introduction.
  • When addressing you later, you should still pay attention to the academic degree.
  • Great importance is attached to proper clothing. Short-sleeved shirts with a tie are not appropriate, even in high temperatures.
  • Be flexible and patient. Italians are reluctant to stick to the given agenda.
  • Keep your shoes on for private invitations. The guest is king and you can accept that in Italy.


If you like to discuss, then France is the place for you. A discussion does not always have to mean a difference of opinion. The French often just have fun doing it. When negotiating with French business partners, you should have enough time. Negotiations are also based on their own tactics. So mostly not everything is revealed. The usual way of putting all the facts on the table is considered naive by the French.

In addition, the following applies:

  • You should always address business partners by title.
  • Proceed with feeling: convey German objectivity with a little more emotion.
  • While eating together (for example during lunch break) it is not proper to talk about business matters.
  • As a woman, you shouldn't refill yourself with wine and water.


United Kingdom

The British are a very reserved and polite people and sometimes seem a bit peculiar to us. But one tradition is particularly important to them: the after-work beer in the pub. Here you switch off from your job, new contacts are made and you get out of yourself. So that it goes well until the joint after-work beer, you can keep the following points in mind:


  • Thank you and apologize for everything.
  • Always wear decent business clothes and, as a woman, cover at least your knees.
  • Important matters are often discussed in the restaurant or during private activities; everything is rarely dealt with in business meetings.
  • Small talk is very important to the British.
  • Shaking hands is compulsory at the first meeting; it is no longer desired at subsequent encounters.


  • Vulgar language or topics of conversation embarrass the British.
  • Appear intrusive: The distance zone in Great Britain is larger than ours, so keep at least a meter away.
  • To answer too directly or with a strict “no”: Our direct manner is unfamiliar to you and seems too brash.

The right mindset: Nobody is perfect

Having international competence does not mean having a perfect command of international business etiquette. Rather, it is about opening yourself up to other cultures and countries, abandoning your own stuck behaviors and values ​​and being able to embrace new things. Your international business partner faces exactly the same challenge as you and as long as both sides try, you will forgive them for small mistakes and they will certainly forgive you too. If you are not sure whether you should adhere to the customs of your business partner or whether he adapts to yours, then inquire whether a meeting has already taken place and how they behaved there. It is also polite to adapt to the manners of the country in which you are visiting.

Otherwise, the simple rule is: approach each other and slowly settle down. If there is ever a meeting or dinner with international business customers, this is a good chance to make valuable contacts across national borders. To do this, you can refresh your knowledge with our article Networking Successfully: 7 Tips for Your Business Networking.

Are you still looking for a job with international challenges? Then take a look at our job exchange. Because we also offer exciting positions in international brand groups.


Picture credits: Cover picture: © Gettyimages / PeopleImages, picture 1: © Gettyimages / Katerina_Andronchik, picture 2: © Gettyimages / Katerina_Andronchik, infographics: © AVANTGARDE Experts.