With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it is a time for feasting, but would you slurp your soup? Many Americans would consider that rude, but there are cultures where that is considered a compliment to the chef. Trying to close a sale can be hard. Add different cultures to the mix and you can destroy a deal without being aware of what you did! If I have you nervous about your next lunch meeting don’t worry! We have compiled a list of our top five Do’s and Don’ts of social graces in Mexico, China and the United States.
1. Don’t show up on time for a social engagement — you will be the only one who does, and will most likely be waiting for a very long time (possibly hours).
2. Business entertainment is very important and it is during these events that personal relationships should be developed.
3. Always keep both hands above the table.
4. Don’t leave the table immediately after you are finished eating.
5. To reciprocate, invite your Mexican counterparts to dinner at a nice restaurant (French or Italian are your best bets). Pay in advance to avoid arguments about the bill.
1. Seating is very important. The guest of honor is always placed at the head of the room, facing the door. Allow the host to begin eating before joining in.
2. Leave some food on your plate during each course of a meal to honor the generosity of your host. It is bad manners for a Chinese host not to keep refilling guests’ plates or teacups.
3. A toast to friendship among companies will help cement a business relationship
4. Do not discuss business at dinner unless your Chinese counterpart initiates it.
5. If you are the guest of honor at a dinner, leave shortly after the meal is finished, as no one will leave before the guest of honor.
1. Americans conduct business over breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some socializing may start off the meal, but often the conversation will revolve around business.
2. In a business setting the person extending the invitation to a meal pays for it.
3. Never begin eating until everyone is served and your hosts have begun. Offer food or drink to others before helping yourself. Serve all women at the table first.
4. The guest of honor is often toasted and should reciprocate by giving a toast of thanks.
5. Americans tend to eat more quickly than people from other countries. Dining in the United States is seldom the long, lingering event it is in much of the world. The point is more often to eat rather than socialize and savor the meal.
With people at the heart of any sales job, meals can be a great icebreaker. Knowing different customs makes you look knowledgeable and welcoming. With our guide, you can enjoy dinner and feast with confidence. Happy Thanksgiving!