Business Guide: Cultural Differences in Business Etiquettes
By: Lawrence Kurnia
Learning cultural differences in business etiquettes are very important especially if our businesses are
dealing with export and import. I believe that every country has different cultures and different
etiquettes in business. An action may be considered as polite in one country, but it can also be
considered as impolite in other country. Therefore, in this article, I would like to share with my reader
that it is important to learn not only business etiquettes in the United States but also in other countries.
What principles can affect the culture in a country? Actually there are many things that can affect a
culture such as beliefs, religions, social structures, communication, ethical values, educations,
environments, and many more. From all these principles, each country develops different cultures as
we all know. These diversities will make our world interesting and unique. However, if we don’t learn
about other people cultures and etiquettes, conflicts might be on its way.
In the United States, the most common way to show our gratitude to a waiter in a restaurant is by giving
tip. In other countries, it is different. In Italy, we just need to say our appreciation to the waiters
straightly. While in some Asian countries, people never give tip to the waiters unless the service is really
special. Giving an expensive gift in European countries sometimes can be considered as bribe. However,
in Japan, expensive gift is considered as a normal way to show gratitude.
Even from the way we dress, people can perceive us differently. People from Indonesia have a
traditional shirt called “batik”. Even though this shirt looks like a little bit casual, this shirt is considered
to be professional attire too. Even the President of Indonesia sometimes used batik to treat his guests,
including President Barack Obama when he came to Indonesia. However, if we are wearing batik for a
job interview in United States, I am sure that the employer will think twice to hire us.
I have spent almost a year studying Chinese language in Beijing, China. I noticed that Chinese people
usually like to wear something not too fancy and seniority is a very important value there. Even though
Japan and South Korea are really close to china, but their cultures are very different. The younger
generations in Japan and Korea like to wear fancy dresses and in Japan they even have a name for this
fashion called “Harajuku” style.
I found it fascinating to learn so many different cultures in the world. If we’re planning to do some
offshore businesses, then we definitely need to learn the cultures and the trends first before entering