What is business etiquette, what are its basic rules and how can business etiquette tips help you? In the article, we consider some basic things concerning business etiquette and its rules around the world and in the UAE in particular.
Business etiquette rules determine the generally accepted order of behavior and communication in business. Proper business etiquette is essential for maintaining a business image, building relations and moving up the career ladder. A person who wants to achieve professional success must know the rules of decency, be able to keep himself/herself in a team and any situation, earn respect and trust of colleagues and partners. The knowledge of modern rules and some tips on business etiquette in the countries of the world and the UAE, in particular, will help to avoid mistakes and resolve conflict situations.
Modern entrepreneurs understand that adherence to business etiquette and ethics of business communication is one of the keys to successful management and is an indicator of professionalism. If you have foreign partners, then you should also know the basic rules of etiquette in foreign countries in order to conduct your business abroad effectively.
International business etiquette rules
Here are some international business etiquette tips to help you at a business meeting in communication with colleagues and partners (they can be applied in all the countries, such as the countries of the Middle East, for example, the UAE):
- Punctuality. One of the basic rules of business etiquette is punctuality and respect to other people’s time, in a word – competent time management. This is one of the foundations in the business world. You can be a bright, charismatic presenter, a great negotiator, a professional manager, but if you always late, wasting the time of other people, your success in business is problematic. It is unlikely that in this situation you will manage to build long-term cooperation with your partners: non-punctual people are not respected in the business world.
- Competent speech and business writing style are crucial during business meeting and communication in general. Appearance tells a lot about a person, but the ability to communicate can make even more vivid impression about your interlocutor. Structured business speech without any useless information and lyrical digressions are of great importance for a business person. The use of parasitic words, introductory words, repetitions, antics, voice distortion, and parodies not allowed in the business world.
- Business gestures. This part of business etiquette is also very important. Gestures, manners, facial expressions sometimes can tell about a person more than words. Straight posture, confident look, lack of fuss in moves are signs of a person doing business.
- Compliance with the dress code is another important thing about business etiquette. The first impression of a person is made based on his/her appearance. The appearance of a person determines the position and status in society; it tells us about the character and inner world of a person much more than words. Not only speech, but also clothing, hair, and other details of appearance provide us with information on a person.
- Respect of an interlocutor, a partner, and a client. The selfish person thinning only about their own profit and income is not respected both by partners and colleagues. A clerk closing the door in front of a client at the end of a workday or before dinner, a loudly speaking employee in an office where other people work, a leader who cannot listen to his subordinates – all these are examples of disrespect to partners and clients.
- Ability to organize teamwork between employees. A microclimate in a team largely depends on the nature of relations in a company between colleagues. An even, friendly, respectful relationship is the basis of a healthy team. If someone from colleagues makes a mistake, it is important to point out the flaws in the work correctly, and offer some help.
- Another important issue of business etiquette is compliance with other people’s secrets. Almost every company has confidential information that is not subject to be disclosed. Do not talk about the issues of your partners with the third party persons.
- Be ready to listen and hear your opponent. The ability to listen to your partner is not a natural gift but a developed skill. Having this competence, a business person potentially can be very effective in doing business. Every client, employee and business partner will tell about own needs and expectations. Being able to hear and make the right offer is vital. This skill is also essential in the business world because it helps save time, which is more valuable than money since it cannot be saved.
- Business negotiations competence. The ability to conduct competent negotiations, to bring them to the desired result is a fundamental rule of business etiquette. In order for negotiations to take place at a high level, it is necessary to set clear goals, draw up a precise plan, choose a convenient time and place for both parties.
- Correct relationship between chief and subordinate. According to the rules of business etiquette, the head of a company should be treated equally to all the employees, while maintaining a reasonable distance. Any judgments about subordinates should always be expressed face-to-face.
Business dining rules
A personal meeting with a partner during business dinner, business lunch and other business meals is an important element of business communication, especially in the Arab countries, such as the UAE. Certain dining etiquette rules must be followed during dining. Lunch with a client or a potential business partner is often as fruitful as an office meeting. Here we provide you with a few business etiquette dinner tips:
- The time and place of the business meal are always chosen by the one who is invited. It is best to send an invitation in a week before the meeting while inviting the guest to choose a place. You can also suggest a meeting place by yourself, but only if you know the culinary preferences of your partner. If you organize a lunch for a group of people, choose a restaurant with a diverse menu and always make a reservation.
- Avoid controversial topics in conversation. It is best to start a conversation with small talk: about business, weather, upcoming vacation. Avoid inappropriate topics: religion, politics, and so on. When drinks are on your table, and you have already ordered food, you can proceed to the conversation, which is to be the main topic of your meeting. Start with a question about the business of your guest, and only then about possible cooperation. The ability to listen to the things others say is one of the most important things as well.
- Turn off the phone. In case you are waiting for an urgent call, notify your guest about it and limit the telephone conversation to a minimum. Always be polite to the waiter and restaurant staff. Smile, the words "please" and "thank you" are worth nothing, but will leave a good impression. Entering the restaurant, you can let your guest come first. However, one should not exaggerate with politeness, such as pushing the ladies aside when, according to business etiquette, women and men are treated in a business setting on equal terms.
- Do not order alcoholic beverages. Remember that you are not allowed to order alcohol during a business lunch. If your guest insists, you do not have to agree with him. Remember the initial goal of your meeting.
- Do not order sophisticated dishes. If you know a restaurant well, then a good thing during a business dining is to recommend dishes that you have already tried. Let the guest place an order first, and if he/she chooses a snack or dessert, then order those as well, so as not to make an uncomfortable situation when everyone eats alone. Being a guest, follow the rule of the golden mean – do not order either the most expensive, nor the cheapest dishes, so as not to embarrass the inviting side.
- Regardless of gender, the inviting party pays for lunch. In the case when a male guest objects to it, a woman can say that her company is paying for lunch. In the case when your guest still does not want to be paid for, you can give in, so as not to enter into an argument and not spoil the impression of the meeting. Dexterous reception is also the calculation at the bar, which also helps to avoid an uncomfortable situation.
- Say thank you for the meeting. Don't forget to thank you for the invitation and having a nice time. This can be done by phone or by email. Giving thanks will emphasize that you are a well-mannered person and appreciate the time of the inviting party. The most important thing in a business lunch is to be yourself, to get out of the strict rules for conducting meetings in the company’s territory. Being out of an office, you can allow some freedom to yourself that will make an atmosphere and allow your guests to open up. This behavior will greatly simplify the creation of a business relationship.
Business e-mail etiquette rules
Email writing is still a basic business communication tool used in the modern world; it is also widely used by marketers to promote products and services. For effective business communication, it is important to know the basic business email etiquette rules. These rules are universal; they can be used both in China and in the USA or the UAE. Here are some tips of business email etiquette:
- The subject of the letter. Any business letter must contain a subject. After seeing it, your addressee decides whether to open this letter or not. Therefore, the topic should be clear so that the addressee to understand what your letter is about.
- E-mail box. Send letters to customers or partners only from your work e-mail box. If you are sending a letter from a personal email, correctly enter the subject so that your partner understands what it is and from whom.
- Send an email at the right time. It is very important to send letters at the right time in order for them to be read. We recommend sending your first letters with offers to partners at lunchtime from 13:00 to 14:00 or in the evening after work (18:00-21:00).
- Personalization. If possible, always contact a person by name. By this, you show respect to the person you address to.
- Grammar. Do not make grammatical errors in emails. This shows your partner that you are inconsiderate; overworked, or do not attach importance to the importance of correspondence. Take time to check your messages for errors. To simplify this process, you can use an application, such as Grammarly.
- A correct tone of a letter. When you work with your colleague for several years, you may use an informal style of communication, but when communicating with a new potential client, the tone should be changed to a formal and respectful one. Be always aware of who your addressee is so as not to spoil the existing relationship with incorrect treatment.
- A different approach to different cultures. In email correspondence, you should take into account cultural differences. Adapt your letters to the requirements of business etiquette of the country where you write to. For example, Arabs, Chinese, and Japanese want to learn more about their interlocutor before they start talking about business, while Germans and Americans, on the contrary, pay more attention to the business itself.
- Always respond to emails. Always try to reply to received emails. This is considered a good form and rule of business email etiquette. Answer even if a letter was sent to you by mistake, but the sender is waiting for a response.
Business phone rules
In the countries of the Middle East, in Dubai in particular, they prefer to talk on the phone instead of e-mail or messenger. There are some generally accepted business phone etiquette rules in a modern business world. These are the tips on business phone etiquette that will be useful in the process of business communication by phone:
- Tend to the maximally informative conversation. Business phone etiquette rules imply that the conversation will relate to a particular case; you should not reduce it to other things.
- Be polite and tactful. If you gave an answer to the question but did it unceremoniously, your company's reputation will be jeopardized. Also, such incidents can adversely affect the course of negotiations.
- If you are very busy, and someone is calling at this time, you can either not pick up the phone at all, or politely ask the other person to call back, explaining the situation.
- If you do not hear an interlocutor, tell him/her about it. You should not speak loudly disturbing your colleagues. Your interlocutor will either move the place with a better connection or recall.
- If you call a person who may not remember you, you should not only introduce yourself but also briefly describe the circumstances in which your meeting took place. Due to this, further communication will be more comfortable psychologically.
- If your colleague, who is currently absent, is called to the phone, you should inform the other party about his/her appearing and ask if some information should be delivered to this person.
- If you are the initiator of a call, be sure to introduce yourself, even if you are sure that you will already be recognized.
Business etiquette rules in the Middle East (Dubai, UAE)
The UAE and its free economic zones are very popular jurisdictions for foreign investors due to the absence of taxes, ease of capital withdrawal, the absence of duties and other preferences. As for the free zones, almost all companies here are owned by foreigners who need some knowledge of business etiquette in this eastern country. The business environment of the Middle East has some features that are important to consider, especially for representatives of other countries and cultures. Here is a set of basic business etiquette rules that will be useful in Dubai, UAE:
- Use the official language of business communication in the region – Arabic, or English. International meetings and most of the business communication are in English. If you have business relationships with local partners, knowledge of Arabic will be very useful, but if you do not know it, communication in English is acceptable.
- Personal contacts are valued more than remote communication. These are the peculiarities of local business etiquette, trust that can only be achieved through personal communication is very valuable.
- Choose the correct form of greeting. First of all, greet the eldest person, and then the rest of a group. The typical handshake is considered acceptable here, but not with women. Moreover, physical contact with women is unacceptable.
- Friday and Saturday are weekends in a Muslim world, also, the company’s working time can differ from the usual range 9:00 – 18:00, for example, 7:30 – 15:00. It should be considered in planning business meetings and communication.
- A 30 minutes delay is considered to be a normal thing. Unlike the countries of the Western world, in the Middle East, a slight delay is not considered a sign of disrespect. It is worth considering this fact.
- Do not refuse any meals. In the Arab world, the rejection of offered food and drinks is considered impolite.
- As for business clothing topic, a typical western business suit for men and women is acceptable here. The main thing is as follows: do not wear clothes showing the naked parts of your body.
In general, in matters of business etiquette in the UAE, you can be guided by the principles of business etiquette of the countries of the Western world, but do not forget about the cultural characteristics of a Muslim country.