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Common Sense Rules for Practical Protocol and Diplomacy, The Executive Diplomat’s Code of Conduct

There are specific do’s and don’ts for every country and culture, but if you haven’t had country or culture specific training the ten tips below can serve as a code of conduct for success in today’s global market.

  • 1. Business, it’s personal—build relationships. Whether in Houston or Hong Kong, people prefer to do business with people they know, trust and respect.
  • 2. Communication is key—listen. Be a sympathetic listener focus on the person you are with, listen carefully, and watch your body language. Put the cell phone on quiet and don’t check it when you’re with clients in meetings, during speeches, at lunch, dinner…
  • 3. Communication part II—talk the talk and if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.  Do what you say you’re going to do. Know what subjects are safe and which are taboo. Avoid negative comparisons, slang, acronyms, sports analogies, and minimize use of idiomatic expressions or popular phrases which may be hard to translate. When talking about your organization use “We” instead of “I.”
  • 4. Be polite and treat everyone with respect, kindness and dignity.
  • 5. Be flexible, tolerant, open to new ideas and don’t take offense easily.
  • 6. Be culturally intelligent: watch, listen, learn, apply and adapt.
  • 7. Be patient it takes time to build trust and break down barriers.
  • 8. Don’t judge, be inclusive and respect differences—cultural, political, religious, gender, race, and disabilities.
  • 9. Be modest and more formal in dress, table manners, conversation, and body language.
  • 10. Do your homework. Research the country/culture/company. You can find lots of information on the internet or ask someone from the country. Have a cheat sheet with political, geographical, historical and cultural notes as well as business protocol—titles, forms of address, rank, greetings, common gestures, office etiquette, major holidays, etc.