Book Review: Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands {How To Do Business In Sixty Countries}

Kiss, Bow, Or Shake Hands:How To Do Business In Sixty Countries
By Terri Morrison, Wayne A. Conaway, George A. Borden, and Hans Koehler

? While in Germany, on business, you meet with your local counterpart. Between your broken German and histextbook English you are able to carry on a fairly well understood conversation. You reach a lull in your talkand to keep the conversation going you ask your friend about his spouse and children. Suddenly, he grows very quiet and a look of anger sweeps across his face. You ask yourself, "Did I mispronounce something? Did I say something wrong?"

? In Ecuador, you engage a street vendor in a lively negotiation for one of the Indian artifacts that he is selling. You grow increasingly uncomfortable as you realize that not even a foot separates you from him; you take that to mean he is interested in you personally. Whenever you took a step backward, he takes one step towards you to close the gap. Alarmed, you break off the conversation suddenly and head back to your hotel hoping that the merchant is not following after you.

? On the streets of Copenhagen, you wait for traffic to thin out so that you may cross the road. A driver slows down and signals for you to proceed. You smile and flash an okay gesture (thumb and forefinger forming a circle) at her and then are surprised by the glaring look of disgust from her.

Each of the above examples shows cultural differences that can occur when traveling outside the United States. "Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands: How to Do Business in Sixty Countries," is a helpful reference for travelers. From Argentina to Greece to Japan, the authors present a work that is both serious and funny, practical and helpful, to assist business travelers as they navigate the cultural maze in the land(s) they are visiting.

The book is a helpful tool that will enhance the globetrotter in brushing up on what to expect before his/her trip abroad. Each featured country has its own chapter and contains the following information:

? Country Background -- History, Type of Government, Language, Religion, and Demographics.

? Cultural Orientation -- Particular Value Systems and Negotiation Strategies.

? Business Practices -- Appointments (When to be punctual and when to be purposely late), Negotiating, and Business Entertainment.

Interspersed throughout are cultural notes that are meant to inform travelers how to present their best foot forward and avoid mistakes like those listed earlier. Now, let's take a look at the examples mentioned earlier and see what went wrong:

? For Germans, family life and business life are kept separate. Germans will find a way to work family into their conversation if they want to share that information with you (see page 131).

? Ecuadorians, like many South Americans, traditionally stand close to one another when conversing. If you move back, they often will close the gap to maintain their close proximity. In the U.S., we are accustomed to at least a two foot gap between people and consider anything closer as threatening (see page 92).

? Danes, as well as many cultures around the world, take the American "o.k." gesture to be an obscene or insulting response. Be careful what hand gestures you use abroad -- you may get a very unwelcome response (see page 87).

Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands is published by Adams Media Corporation, 1994, Holbrook, Mass.

Matt is the webmaster for the Corporate Flight Attendant Community at http://www.corporateflyer.net and http://www.cabinmanagers.com

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