by Bruce Myint | January 01, 2004
Planning an excursion to the Pacific Rim? Before loading up the Samsonite, you might want to brush up on your cross-cultural manners. As many Western business travelers have discovered, language and food aren’t the only things in Asia requiring adaptation.
   “In Asia, the first step in business relationships is to develop respect and trust with your associates. Once you learn this time-honored tradition, business will come much easier,” says Steve Halliday, director and senior vice president of Singapore-based Pan Pacific Hotels and Resorts. To help travelers build better business relationships in Asia, Pan Pacific offers these tips.
   " Use titles and surnames when addressing business associates (i.e., “Director Cheng”).
   " Ask a guide about the appropriateness of a gift before you give. While a clock might make a nice present in the United States, for instance, Malaysians believe timepieces symbolize death. Likewise, giving a knife to a Singaporean might be seen as a desire to end a relationship.
   " Never touch your host’s head. In cultures such as Thailand’s, even passing an object over someone’s head is taboo.
   " Avoid sitting cross-legged. In parts of Asia, shoes and feet are considered unclean, so be aware if the local custom is to shed shoes indoors.
   " Present your business card with both hands written materials facing the recipient and make a slight bow when handing the card off. Also, be sure to bring plenty of cards, otherwise your host might think you don’t  really want to do business.