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#InfographicIdeas: Intercultural and Global Awareness in the Workplace

#InfographicIdeas: Intercultural and Global Awareness in the Workplace published on 23 Comments on #InfographicIdeas: Intercultural and Global Awareness in the Workplace

Today’s infographic focuses on Business Etiquette Around the World. The image outlines how people introduce themselves in the workplace, how business meetings work, and how people interact when dining with coworkers or (potential) clients.

You can include information about intercultural and global influences on the different kinds of writing that you include in your Analysis Table project, so today’s infographic should help you begin thinking about how writing and communication may change depending upon where your audience lives or what they cultural background is.

I’m not convinced that everything in the infographic is 100% accurate. For instance, it seems like a stereotype to think that everyone has to do a solo karaoke performance after dinner in South Korea. Does anyone know?

As you look at the infographic, you can respond to what you see here, following any of these ideas (or an idea of your own):

  • Can you provide details that confirm or challenge claims in the infographic?
  • Can you add information for a country—either something that is missing or a country that isn’t listed?
  • Is there anything that surprises you? anything that you might need help adapting to?
  • Can you share an experience where you did (or didn’t) follow intercultural expectations?
  • Can you tell us more about any of the practices listed here (such as the significance of a practice or why things are done in a particular way in a culture)?

Infographic on Business Etiquette Around the World

Image transcript available






After looking at the infographic, there were several things that did not surprise me. First off, the United States is known for introductions by using the first name, which is super casual. However when it comes to the UK and France the use surnames for introductions which is a lot more formal. It also doesn’t surprise me that in the United States when it comes to communication for a business meeting what is said is very direct and blunt. I remember learning in my Spanish class in high school that in Brazil lunch can last a long time, so I am not surprised that lunches can last over 2 hours.

I was surprised to find out that in Israel the work week is Sunday through Thursday because most places the work week is Monday through Friday. I am surprised that in Russia for a business meeting interruptions are allowed because I would have thought that in Russia they would be more strict about something like this and they would see an interruption as someone being rude. I was surprised that in Taiwan you are expected to leave some rice in your bowl because usually if you don’t finish what is on your plate, usually it appears as you being rude and that you did not enjoy the food.

I feel that the Asian culture is usually well known for showing respect to others. So handing a business card with both hands seems a lot more respectful and courteous than using just one hand. Also, these countries refer to people by their surname which is also another way that shows they are respectful of their elders. Finally, many of the Asian countries always have a pre-business chit-chat before a meeting and this shows that you are interested in how the other person is doing and this is also very respectful.

There are many times when I haven’t followed the norm that is shown in this infographic. First off, when it comes to introductions, if I am meeting an adult, I will refer to them as their surname to show them respect. Also, I would sharp dress clothes over casual when it comes to interviews or when meeting people. I would beg to differ that in the United States, for meetings there usually are interruptions so the infographic saying that they are not allowed surprised me. Many meetings that I have been in for my internship, there has always been some type of interruption whether it be someone showing up late or someone needing to get a hold of someone who is in the room.

There are many ideas touched on in this infographic that did not surprise me at all. Generally, most countries stick t the general stereotypes that you would expect. For example, it seems as though many Canadian customs are somewhat passive and overly nice, such as indirect form of communication so that you do not upset anyone by saying no. Then on the other hand, you have many Asian countries who practice much stricter customs. There are benefits and drawbacks to every approach, but I think it is very polite to practice the customs of whatever country in which you are conducting business.
In my Spanish classes in high school my teachers would often try to teach us about Spanish culture. Many of these customs follow what I was taught. For example, dinner (or most meals for that matter) are extremely long. Additionally, many South American and European countries eat dinner much later than people in the United States (9-10pm compared to 5-6pm). I also had the chance to visit France in high school and can confirm that if you attempt to speak their language, rather than diving straight into English, they will treat you much more nicely, and more respectfully. I feel as though this is most likely true in most places.
The custom that surprised me the most was the business card etiquette. I have never heard of there being any sort of ritual behind giving someone your business card. However, I think it is very interesting that something as simple as giving out your business card can change depending on where you are in the world. Also, like Danielle, I thought it was very interesting how Israel’s work week is from Sunday to Thursday, and not the standard Monday to Friday.
The only example I have of not following foreign customs occurred in France when I did not attempt to speak the language to someone who lived there. Nothing bad happened, they were just not as open to talking to me as they were with people who attempted the language first.

Interesting approach to the general aspects of communication and dining etiquette of various cultures. I think it is noteworthy that in general, western countries and middle eastern/Asian countries have almost the opposite with regards to being direct, having a firm handshake, and how meetings are run. This is good to know because as an American traveling to those countries on a business trip, I might unintentionally offend someone by being polite in the way that is expected from me in America. My parents are German, so I can say for sure that German business meetings are very blunt and almost cutthroat in style. With regards to dinners, in America you wait till everyone is served and then eat. In Germany, if your food is served before someone else’s, it is expected that you start eating before it gets cold. Thus, you could finish you meal by the time the last person gets theirs at a restaurant. I also have friends from Indonesia and they told me that Indonesia is actually an interesting mix of western and eastern cultures and norms and the correct business way to behave differs depending on which region you are traveling in.

I think that your input on Indonesian varieties in custom is important to note in many different countries, especially as our economy becomes more globalized. The customs may have a lot of diversity in megacities where professionals from many different people groups have moved for work.

I found it interesting that in Canada indirect communication is valued to “save face”, which seems to confirm the stereotype of Canadians always apologizing excessively. Additionally, I had never seen that there are different customs in giving out your business card, which is important to know. I think it is very important to know different customs when doing business with foreign companies, but it is also important to just be observant during meetings about how the people interact, eat, and speak to each other. I also noticed that it noted that the work week in Israel is from Sunday to Thursday because the Sabbath is on Saturday’s so their workweek is different; this would affect communications with Israeli companies because the workweek is different from most other countries.

I am also wary of the accuracy of this infographic. There are things that seem just a stereotype, such as indirect communication style of Canada. I think we all think of Canada as super polite so this almost feels like a confirmation bias.
I studied abroad in Switzerland and found some inaccuracies or gaps in the information. There are several different regions in Switzerland that all have their unique personality. There is a French, German, and Italian region and each adopts similar personalities to the bordering countries that share the same language. Most international business that occurs takes place in the northern Germanic region in cities like Zurich and Geneva, so perhaps that is the region most of this information was based on. I was also confused by the dining etiquette that claims you cut your potatoes with a fork and not a knife. I lived there for 4 months and ate plenty of potatoes and not once got strange looks for using a knife.
I think it is very common in places outside the U.S. for lengthy, leisurely meals. Most places I visited in Europe like to savor the meal and company, rather than treat it as a burden or chore like it can seem in the U.S.
I was not at all surprised by the differing work week of Israel, We forget that the entire world is not rooted in Christian ideals which is why our work week does not include Saturday and Sunday. The Jewish Sabbath is Saturday so it makes complete sense that they would shift the week accordingly to align with their ideals.

I would say after reading this infographic and everyone’s responses thus far, it is safe to say that what is written and published in this infographic should be taken with a grain of salt. I have traveled to a few countries in Europe, Canada, and Brazil so I tried to keep their cultures in mind when reading this and could somewhat understand where the author was coming from (since I was not involved in business personally while traveling). But, I felt like some components of this chart were taken a little too far for generalizing, such as the indirect vs. direct communication, the interruptions, the handshake, etc. Honestly, if I were doing business in a different country I might look at this infographic or other sources to help me become aware of some major factors to watch out for, but I think it is a safer bet to read the room and keep an open mind. Honestly, unless it is an extremely offensive mishap you make, I feel like it would be more offensive to make a stereotypical judgment, such as mentioning karaoke in South Korea. But, there were parts of this chart that were very helpful tips to be aware of, such as apologizing for not speaking French in France (the French are usually indignant about others not being able to speak their language) and most all of the dining etiquette seemed extremely useful and great to be aware of.
As for my personal experiences with different cultures, I have experienced different introductions in France and in Brazil. In France, it was customary to give two kisses on the cheek when meeting or introducing someone– one on each cheek. In Rio de Janiero, Brazil, you were expected to give (and receive) two cheek kisses (dois bejos), while in Sao Paulo, Brazil, only one cheek kiss was customary. One of my best friends grew up in Rio, and she said there was were cues people gave that indicated whether to give one or two kisses in other parts of Brazil– all signals I was very much unaware of or capable of picking up. I think with customs like these, foreigners or guests are given leeway to mess up a little, as long as the best interest and respect for the other party is shown.

Hey everyone!
I have not traveled the world, nor do I have much experience with people from outside of the United States. I have a slight sense of general Canadian practices since I have been there a few times, but this knowledge is minimal at best. So, I have no comment to any specific detail of the infographic. However, I have an opinion about it. I think it is necessary to understand the norms of other cultures. I also believe it is necessary to walk into a social/business situation with some background about who you are interacting with. But I think for each situation those details will change, regardless of what country you’re in. Thus, while I do believe that attempting to understand another culture is a good thing (though all information needs to be taken with a grain of salt), ALL manners should be tailored to specific interactions and should be done so based on past primary/secondary experience. If this is your first time interacting with someone and no one you know has been in a situation with this person before either, then just present yourself as you would to a stranger in your hometown. If they find offense to your manner, apologize and admit naivete. I think it is wrong if you disregard someone’s comfort, but it is not wrong if you simply don’t understand it insofar as you have exhausted all options in an attempt to understand it. In short, all situations are different and thus we should all approach them in different ways if we know how, and if not, try your best.

I was surprised at how many countries has customs when it comes to business cards. The only time is see those nowadays is in a bowl at a restaurant. I think the best thing that this infographic does is that it shows you how different countries can have drastically different customs when it comes to business. Understanding these differences, even if you aren’t completely sure on them, is important in conduction business in a global economy. I believe that these practices take practice and experience in order to get them right every time. However, I would feel comfortable in the fact that the person across the table from me may not understand my customs just as much as I don’t understand theirs. I believe that being upfront with someone is the best way to go about it. Like in France, you should apologize for not being able to speak it well or at all. I think this approach is the best because it will allow you to build strong business relations.

I was shocked to see a lot of Asian countries handle their business cards with two hands, and that in France it is better to have a light handshake than a firm one. I’ve been abroad a couple of times, however I’ve never conducted business abroad. I know that in America when someone smiles and is enthusiastic during a meeting it shows they care, however in Russia it can be seen as insincere. I think it’s really important that regardless of where you conduct your business, you need to research how that country handles meetings so that you don’t look like an idiot. I also think the business meeting infographic was a little bit too specific. In meetings people don’t necessarily only communicate directly or indirectly, and it’s also not true that every American person doesn’t partake in pre-business chatter. I understand this infographic is meant to be general, however it would be best to look up a country’s customs to fully understand what is expected of you.

Especially when food is involved, it’s important to see what is customary. I know in Poland whenever you go to someone’s house or a meeting, they will give you tea, and then some finger food and it’s rude if you decline to eat their food. I feel like this is customary in many places, so I think it’s best not to show up too full. I also think with dining etiquette in the infographic everything is very specific, however I know that in some countries a lot of people don’t necessarily do what was listed.

As someone that has never traveled outside of the United States and has very little experience with individuals from other cultures, most of the information here seems to follow the stereotypes that are portrayed by the entertainment and media industries. With that being said, there were some things in this infographic that surprised me and some things that didn’t surprise me. Surprising elements included the business card and pre-business chit-chat customs of some countries. Elements that were not surprising included handshaking and attire customs. I also noticed a correlation between different areas of the world. Most countries located in the same geographical region tend to follow the same customs with some exceptions, which is to be expected.

This infographic also has increased my curiosity about how valid these claims are. I hope to one day be able to travel to many of these places to experience first-hand if these generalizations are, in fact, true.

I didn’t know that the Israeli work week was Sunday-Thursday, but thinking about their holy day being Friday sundown to Saturday sundown, it makes sense. But the UAE was on the infographic, and they similarly are not a Christian society. It makes me wonder if perhaps their work week is different too?

I studied abroad in Switzerland for four months, During that time, I ate potatoes, which I cut with a knife, oftentimes in front of the Swiss villa manager, and she never once said anything, I will say that the infographic was completely accurate in terms of eating lengths for European countries. They are long term affairs, and often start very late. I was walking around Milan one night (around ~6pm) and was starving, but there were absolutely no restaurants open for dinner. Even at around 7, it was kind of rude to walk in and expect to be served–that was when the staff was eating their dinner. I also found out in Italy, you eat pizza with a fork and knife, otherwise all of the natives will look at you like you have two heads or something. I had a different experience in France when trying to speak French. I know a good deal of French, but if I ever tried to speak French, whomever I was talking to would respond to me in English and have that look on their face that I was annoyingly wasting their time.

In my experience in business meetings in the US, those that have an agenda usually follow it. I’ve only been a part of a couple meetings consisting of different nationalities, but all of them started off with an agenda and stuck to it fairly well. But I do agree that Americans are a blunt group of people–we mean what we say and we say what we mean in our communication.

Since I have lived all around Asia, a lot of these customs are relatively accurate. In Japan customs are taken very seriously, I specifically know the most about Japanese culture because I am half Japanese, and they take subordination extremely important. It may be different in diplomatic relations, but within the workplace if your boss tells you to do something, you will do it without any hesitation. Also the idea of handing business cards, or handing anything (a gift, money, a pen) if you are giving something to someone who is in “higher” power doing so with two hands shows respect, and is some what expected in that culture. Additionally in Japan, it is sort of confusing, but if you are offered something it is polite to reject it at first, and the offer-er will continue to insist you take the gift, and it sort of just goes on for a while, until you finally accept. And if you are visiting someone you have not seen in a long time, or someone is inviting you into their home, it is important to bring a small token of appreciation, which could be candy, chocolate, a little towel, or anything to show appreciation.

An example I have of when I did not follow cultural expectations, is when I was applying to be in a Japanese elementary school, and I had to talk with the principle of that school, and I was chewing gum (which is usually rude in most cultures) but three minutes into the “interview” he yelled at me for having gum, which was a shock, but it was expected that things like that would not happen in Japanese culture. In addition, there are regional culture patterns, as well. For example, in Blacksburg when someone doesn’t hold the door for you when you’re shortly behind them would come to a shock to most people, but in any big city, that is not something that would be expected.

In general, being able to understand other cultures, and adapt to those cultures, will help you be more successful in enjoying your time in a new place, and perhaps workplace. People who are stuck in trends or patterns that are outdated are not appealing to many employers, especially now when businesses and companies are so international and have such a global impact.

I come from China, in my country. For the name card, we need use both hands to show the respect to others, and we cannot eat before the host. Furthermore, it is important that we have the best seat for the host. We would like to talk something else before we talk the topic, and no interrupt allowed. I think we don’t talk about the topic at first because of Chinese regard politeness as important, and we don’t like people who are self-assertion. It is so surprising that we need sing a song when we eat in Korea.
In general, this article can help me to respect different cultural people in the workplace.

I live in Malaysia which is a neighbouring country with Singapore so the way we address our names in a business way is the same where we address the first names for Malays and Indians while addressing surnames for the Chinese. However, in terms of dress code we tend to use business casual to look more corporate and we do not give out business cards by reaching out both hands simply because we looked silly doing it like that and it does not really match our culture. In terms of dining etiquette, there are no specific ones but more of just showing that we respect our colleagues such as waiting for all of the members to sit down first before starting to eat.

I took french for four years so I was surprised that there was a notation on explaining not being fluent in French but there wasn’t a notation on the fact that it is extremely important not to hug someone. The French view hugging as a very intimate and sometimes sexual act as your full body is usually touching someone else’s. It is customary to shake hands and if inclined to touch cheeks while basically kissing the air (you should never actually put your lips on the cheek of the person you are greeting). Also in the same fashion the the U.S. uses Mrs. and Miss to distinguish between married and unmarried women; madame and mademoiselle should be used in the same way as calling a women the wrong title can be taken as a lack of respect.

Before reading this infograph, I would have never thought to study if “interruptions” are allowed during a meeting. Every country has a different culture and customs. If you are traveling to a country for a work trip, it is very important to study the people’s way of life. If you come off as disrespectful to the country and the people you are visiting, it could not only create a bad reputation for yourself, but the company you are traveling with. Deals could be broken and relationships could be severed over dining etiquette or something you feel is custom in your own country. I have not had a personal experience on a work trip to another country, however, if I eventually do, I will be sure to study the formalities and cultural aspects.

This infograph interests me a lot because I actually traveled to Taiwan this past winter break and I definitely saw a huge difference in business etiquette. For example, in Taiwan, the people who run businesses are always outside of their shop trying to advertise their products to customers that walk past them. They always seem so enthusiastic and are not afraid to approach someone to give them their elevator pitch. It almost feels like walking through an auction. Also, when buying products from a business in Taiwan, they always seem so appreciative of the business that they receive as they always bow to their customers and say thank you. They also try to connect with the customers on a more personal level. It is a lot different than here in America where businesses just wait for customers to walk in.

After reading this infographic, I felt it was very accurate regarding the business etiquette in South Korea. The karaoke part somehow cracked me up, but it’s almost true because I heard about and watched people that did so, though it is only when they go to the karaoke bar for drinks. Additionally, talking with full mouth is deemed as not polite. Other than that, I see everything is accurate. Using both hands is a must not only when handing out the cards, but whenever treating people older than you. It was a good information to know how each country has different business etiquette. Overall, I got to know many information from it.

This is a really cool infographic. I was amazed to see all the differences from one culture to another. I’ve been to Israel before and actually have some friends that live there so I do have some insights on cultural edicate there. I would definitely agree with the infographic that a firm handshake there is important, because the people in Israel are somewhat assertive and would respect a strong presence. However, I wouldn’t say it’s necessary to address people as Mr. or Mrs.; The people there are relatively informal and try to do things as close to we do in America as possible. The dress code is very informal, I think there are very few workplaces in Israel where you will find most of the office in suits. Also, I don’t think the two handed business card thing is accurate for Israel; I’m sure a one handed approach would be fine.

The most important thing to note, which was noted at the bottom of one of the pages in the infographic, is that the work week runs from Sunday to Thursday, not Monday to Friday. This is extremely important to know because Friday evening to Saturday evening is the Jewish holiday of shabbat, during which some very religious individuals will avoid using technology or doing work, and some individuals may actually be offended if you call them during this time.

This is a good and educational post as it demonstrates some significant cultural differences. It is always important to know what is acceptable and unacceptable when one associates with a certain group.
This is an example I would like to share. I am from Ghana, and one major sign of disrespect is to give something to an adult using one’s left hand. If one uses a left hand to give out something due to the fact that the right hand is full or not available, he or she has to say sorry before handing it. I remember how my mum would stare at me angrily if I tired giving out something to her with my left hand (You can probably imagine that).
It is a norm at everywhere, including workplaces. If you hand your boss or any other co-worker an item with the left hand whiles your right hand is available, they would actually consider you disrespectful. I am very sure if you attend an interview and kill it, but then hand your resume to the interviewer with you left hand and not say sorry, that will be enough to deny you the job.

I found out that Isreal is very interesting in two aspects. Isreal’s workweek is from Sunday to Thursday where the workweek is from Monday to Friday for the rest of world. The other one is while people can dressed casually to work, but one has to handle a business card with two hands and respects. Two of the dining etiquette is interesting, too. The first one is the expectation of leftovers in Taiwan. The second one is prepared to sing in Korea.

After reading the infographic, I can confirm that the business etiquette for Hong Kong is true. In America, we usually say “let’s eat,” but in Hong Kong we usually say “please eat” and wait for the host to begin eating. Business confrontations are pretty relaxed in Hong Kong, so I can see how pre-business chit-chat is customary. Most conversations, business or non-business, tends to revolve around asking about family and home life.

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