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Home The Business School Blog 2019 March 12 The Rituals of Doing Business Internationally

The Rituals of Doing Business Internationally


While technology has linked the entire planet, each part of the world still has its own culture. If you want a career in business, there’s a good chance you’re going to work with people around the world, so you need to know about their culture to be successful. These are just a few examples of the business culture around the world, from Business.com, Business News Daily and The Richest. At Centennial College, we’re a school of the world with a diverse group of students, so you might even see these different cultures on campus in our business programs. We’ll teach you this in our International Business Management program, along with key knowledge on international law, finance, marketing and more. Some of the international business customs you’ll learn about include…


There’s a serious ritual in Japan around business cards. You come to a meeting with more cards than you’ll need, one side printed in English and the other in Japanese. Each person who greets another will take theirs out, and pass it to the other with both hands, and the recipient will study it for a moment, before giving them their own the same way. During the meeting, you leave the card out on the desk, and don’t write on or play with the card during the meeting, which is rude.

South Korea

If you’re doing business in South Korea, and you’re taken to dinner after a meeting, you’re going to have to take part in karaoke, and you’ll be expected to sing. If you’re terrible at singing, though, don’t worry, the rooms are private, and you’ll be allowed to skip songs after the first verse and chorus, so there’s time for everyone to have a turn.


It’s common practice in China to give a gift to the person you’re doing business with, but doing so also involves another custom: Chinese people will decline the gift three times, and you’re supposed to insist they take it each time. If you’re given a gift, you also need to turn it down three times. Also, never give a watch as a gift, because it represents death.


In France, it’s very important for you to make appointments for both business and pleasure, because showing up unannounced is seen as rude. At the same time, since France is one of the more important fashion centres in the world, your appearance and clothes are more important than in many other countries. Formal, fashionable dress is expected more often in France.


Since the cow is sacred in India, when meeting with business clients for meals, don’t order beef. Speaking of meals, if your business partners offer you food, never say “thank you,” because it’s considered to be a payment for it, which is insulting. Another thing: A direct use of the word “no” could be considered rude, with statements like “we will see” or “possibly” being better.


Unlike many of the other countries on this list, in Germany, business is serious, structured and to the point. You don’t joke, and you’re always on time for everything, because time is considered valuable.

The Middle East

If you’re in an Islamic country, and you’re offered tea, always accept it, even if you’re not thirsty. It’s rude to turn it down, and makes you seem untrustworthy. Middle Eastern countries also have a tradition of haggling for prices, with the sticker price never being the final one. Bargaining is expected for any purchase.

By Anthony Geremia