Travelers to Asia benefit from proper etiquette
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
“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
" 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.