Americans are quite proud of their melting-pot ideals and unorthodox business practices, but in the international business world, “we tend to stand out wherever we go,” says Dana Persia, owner of DP Image Consulting.
But in most countries, she cautions, your career can depend on your ability to go native.
“Awareness of cultural traditions can make or break deals or relationships,” says Judith Bowman, president and founder of Protocol Consultants International.
Something as simple as exposing the soles of your shoes can spell disaster, as it almost did for the president of a cable TV company. He learned the hard way when, during an important business meeting with a Japanese counterpart, his lawyer put his feet on the desk, exposing the bottom of his shoes. Needless to say, follow-up calls went unreturned for a year.