Both CNN.com and USA Today recently published articles on doing business abroad and the importance of understanding cultural differences. Simple mistakes and misunderstandings can be disastrous to your plans in a climate where a wave hello is a profane gesture or discussions of money are downright tactless.
Growing up in a certain place gives one a certain set of societal norms and conducts of behavior, but these vary greatly from region to region. You may have all your number straight, you may know the ins and outs of your foreign counterparts’ business, but if you don’t grasp the simple day-to-day manners of the culture, you could blow the whole deal.
Things to think about are the particular customs of a place, gender roles, dining protocol, and gifts.
While the CNN article is more general and appeals to all professionals who conduct business overseas, USA Today’s article includes a great list of country specific etiquette tips and a more extensive section on dining rituals. Both articles are worth checking out before boarding that 14-hour flight to Tokyo.