International Travel in Asia

If you are conducting business in other countries, make sure you understand their culture. Etiquette plays a major role in international travel.

Posted by Liz Taylor Mar 25, 2011

A former client of mine called me this morning wanting some quick tips on his upcoming trip to Asia. He’s trying to gain a new customer and wants to be sure his etiquette is spot on.

If you are traveling to Asia for business anytime soon, here are the top 5 things you need to know:

1.)    Asian cultures value rank, title and have deep respect for their elders. It would be insulting to speak to a lower-ranking person before speaking to a person with higher rank. Quick tip: Speak first with the person that is similar to your rank or that you have been introduced to.

2.)    Asian countries are considered high context cultures. Their focus in business is to build relationships. It’s important to get to know a person and have trust in them before they are willing to enter a business relationship.

3.)    Be prepared to encounter indirect communicators- much is communicated through tone of voice and nonverbal communication such as head tilting, body language and gestures.

4.)    People of Asia rarely use the word “no”, which is considered rude. ‘Saving face’ in Asian culture is what dictates the relationship. By saying “no” (especially when others are present to witness the event), it would cause the other person to lose ‘face’ which would be seen as an insult. It’s always best to take the person aside and discuss things delicately in private.

5.)    Beware that American’s are viewed as being impatient, insincere and too casual. America is a low context culture and we tend to get to the point and move quickly in business, even if we don’t know someone well. This will not work in Asia.

If you are looking for in-depth training prior to your international travel, please call Etiquette Principles to sharpen your skills.


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“How refreshing and timely. From the texting generation to the baby boomers—the art of etiquette is sadly disappearing. Whether you just need a touch-up or a full immersion, Liz, is the person to teach you the skills to appear confident, elegant and professional in any business situation. Her energetic and engaging style will make this one of the most enjoyable seminars you have ever taken! Liz is awesome!”

—Chuck Bokar, Principal, Design Resource Center

“Absolutely superb! Liz has an amazing knack for presenting her concepts in a thought-provoking and clear style. Her ideas and suggestions would enhance anyone's ability to bridge the gap between business and etiquette. She clearly has a deep understanding of not only the topic, but the thought processes that go into creating better interpersonal relationships out of socially awkward situations. I highly recommend her and her coursework...she will help your business!”

—Brad Guck, District Manager, Administaff

“Liz, Thank you so much for coming to Indianapolis to help us grow our skills as professionals and as people. Your presentation helped us address issues with grace, candor, sensitivity – as well as fun! You were fabulous!”

—Betsy Hamlett, Director of Sales for Kenra, Ltd.

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