The latest on travel, languages and culture by EF Education First

Avoid these 10 mistakes when working internationally

When working abroad or in teams with people from all over the world, it’s absolutely essential to remember that your colleagues might not see the world exactly as you do. Avoid these ten mistakes and you’ll find that working within an international context will go smoothly and you won’t face the kind of cultural clashes that can cause tensions to rise and deals to fall apart.

1. Russia

Never shake hands going through a doorway. Oh, and don’t smile to be polite, you won’t be considered sincere.

2. China

Don’t reach out with one hand only. Remember to accept and offer a business card with both hands.

3. Brazil

Don’t keep a too-professional demeanor. Mixing personal and professional life is part of the deal.

4. Japan

The word ”no” is seldom used. But it can be insinuated, for example by saying that “something can be difficult”, staying silent, or changing the course of the conversation.

5. Italy

Don’t dress sloppily. Instead, make sure you’re well-dressed and well-groomed, always. In Italy, style is fundamental.

6. France

Don’t take it personally and expect to be interrupted. It is a natural form of communicating, so take it as a positive sign that your business partner is interested in you or your idea.

7. Germany

Don’t be late. The most important tip? Be on time. Always.

8. Spain

Don’t be surprised if an office closes for two hours in the middle of the day. Or that people show up around 10 AM in the morning and leave well after 7 PM. It is all part of the (working) culture.

9. USA

Don’t give a weak first impression and make sure you perfect your handshake. Apply the right amount of pressure, time it well and always make eye contact while you’re shaking hands; it might have an impact on your entire business exchange.

10. UK

Don’t be rude. Politeness is key. And keep in mind that as a non-native it might be hard for you to decipher a negative statement – they will usually be packaged politely.

Now that you've mastered the cultural tips, work on your language skills abroadLearn More

Share this article

Latest articles from Career