Navigating Cultural Differences During Business Meetings Abroad

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Joined: Sep 02, 2016
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One of the most exciting parts of getting to travel abroad for business is the opportunity to experience other countries’ customs. However interesting this may be, it can be a double-edged sword: if the place you’re visiting has a culture that is different from your own, you may accidentally offend the people you’re meeting or misunderstand what they mean.

The best way to ensure you have no problems while travelling abroad for work? Read the rest of this article to get a grip on how a few different countries conduct business and invest in some worldwide travel insurance to give yourself even more peace of mind.


Americans value directness, dislike beating around the bush and are outcome oriented, which means that business meetings tend to be as short as possible and to the point. US communication also prioritises clarity – it’s not uncommon for them to tell you what they’re going to say, say it and then summarise what they’ve just said. This isn’t meant to come off as condescending; they simply want to make sure they’ve been clear.

Although they feel comfortable disagreeing with someone (they won’t hide a ‘no’ behind the words ‘maybe’ or ‘we’ll see’), they have a very specific way of giving feedback: criticisms are often sandwiched between multiple positive statements.


Unlike in the USA, saying ‘no’ outright in India can be interpreted as rude. It’s customary to soften this by saying ‘possibly’ instead. You should avoid ordering beef at a business meal or wearing leather as cows are seen as sacred. It’s important to remember that the left hand is seen as unclean in Indian culture, meaning it’s polite to eat with your right hand. You should also be prepared for your Indian business partners to show up late – although you’re more than welcome to be punctual, they don’t consider it to be disrespectful if you’re not.


In Japan, they typically greet each other by bowing, and you should follow suit unless the Japanese person initiates a handshake. The tradition of business cards is still very important in this culture, so it is advisable that you prepare some of your own in both English and Japanese when dealing with professionals from this country. Presenting or accepting one should be done with both hands to show respect.

Before You Go: Invest in Worldwide Travel Insurance

While knowing the customs of different countries is undoubtedly a major part of business travel, so is investing in worldwide travel insurance – after all, how are you supposed to close that all-important deal if you’re stressed out over lost luggage or unforeseen costs? To allow yourself to focus on the work matters at hand, it’s a good idea to purchase coverage from a reputable insurance company.

With these tips on how to handle some international customs and some worldwide travel insurance, your next work trip abroad is sure to go smoothly – and maybe even score you that big promotion you’ve been wanting.
About author: Desiree Michels

Patrick Chong is the Managing Director of InsureMore, an award-winning team of specialists in single trip, annual and worldwide travel insurance. The company offers great deals for various travel insurance policies, so clients can always rest assured that they’re fully protected no matter where they travel.


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