Be aware of different cultural meanings when attending an international business meeting

When we talk about international negotiation, several factors need to be considered because they are different and have different meanings and importance in each country. It is necessary to pay attention to the different cultures in foreign trade.

What counts in Brazil and has a lesser meaning, can be offensive or arrogant in another culture. See some cultural issues that have different meanings in other countries.


In some countries, “time is money” and starting a negotiation with bullshit can hinder your business a lot.

In others, going straight to the point can hinder a lasting relationship because slower negotiations are valued.

It is important to know more about the people of that country so as not to make mistakes in the subjects that are going to start or soften a conversation, for example.

Ways to say no

Latinos often “sweeten the bitter pill”, taking several turns to say no when they have no interest in closing the deal.

On the other hand, people from Anglo-Saxon countries are more pragmatic and get to the point. They suffer nothing to say no.

First name usage

In countries such as Italy, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Germany, it is appropriate to call people by their surname together with their academic title (“doctor”, “engineer”, “accountant”, among others), even after a long period of mutual knowledge.

In Latin America, with the exception of a few countries, it is customary to call people “you” or “you” from the first contact.

Pay attention to these issues of different cultures in foreign trade. Calling by first name, in some places, can feel like an “invasion of privacy” and disrupt your business.


In some countries, it may be offensive and even considered an attempt at bribery to exchange gifts at business meetings.

In China, for example, gifts in the colors bank, blue or black are not recommended because they are colors associated with death.

In the Middle East, pictures of women or domestic animals are considered extremely inopportune.

Just like giving gifts to 4 objects at once, in Japan, it’s like inviting to a funeral, since 4 is the death number.

Planning and organization

Prepare for your meeting by getting to know the culture of the place where you intend to start a business.

Planning and organization are great allies in foreign trade and this is also true when it comes to studying different cultures.

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