Is your company looking to set up a new business in the UK? Here are some useful business etiquette insights to help guide you in the right direction:
a) The UK consists of 4 different countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each one has a strong sense of identity and nationalism so depending on which part you are visiting, you are well advised to research and become acquainted with the country in question and its individual traits, customs etc.
b) Generally, the British can appear quite formal and reserved and a bit more contained in their body language and hand gestures compared with other European countries/USA. A handshake is the common form of greeting; try to avoid prolonged eye contact as this can make your British colleague feel uncomfortable and do not stand too close. People are addressed as Mr., Mrs., Ms. or Miss followed by their surname. Only use first names when invited to do so.
c) When arranging a meeting and you plan to use an agenda, make sure you forward this to your British colleagues in advance so they can review it and recommend any changes. Meetings always have a clearly defined purpose and follow a set pattern. Punctuality is important so always be on time. Call even if you are going to be a couple of minutes late. How meetings are conducted depends on the composition of the people attending; if everyone is at the same level, then there is generally a free flow of ideas and opinions; if a senior ranking person is present, that person will do most of the speaking.
d) Make sure any presentation you give or any information you provide is professional, high-quality and well put together. The British rely on facts and figures, rather than emotions, to make decisions, so avoid making any exaggerated or unsubstantiated claims! Shake hands with everyone at the end of the meeting and afterwards send a letter summarizing what was decided and the next steps to be taken. This letter can be sent by post or email but, regardless, you will be expected to maintain a formal and professional style throughout.
Are you considering doing business in the United Kingdom? Asinta Partner and local expert in the UK, Punter Southall, can answer any questions you might have! Head on over to their contact page to get your conversation started.