The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Guest Blog

William Hanson of The English Manner

We live in a time-poor world; we expect everything instantly. Our Blackberries give us our email instantly; we can tweet our thoughts instantly; we can be telephoned instantly. It’s easy to see why we have started to forget about things like good manners, which appear to take up so much of our precious time. Why hold open that door for someone when we could be Blackberry Messaging a colleague with that new joke?

Manners are timeless. They don’t really take up too much of our time at all. It’s an excuse that the bone-idle have invented in order to excuse them from practising it. Everyone appreciates a bit of respect, and this is the key when doing business with other cultures.

So many business people wrongly assume that doing business in China will be exactly like doing business in Cheshire. We get so many people sent to us by employers, from companies of all sizes, asking us to do a rescue job on a newly promoted VP’s table manners, or their basic business protocol. The employer will brief us that the person has fantastic business acumen but has shockingly bad table manners and would discredit the company if they were sent to wine and dine a client.

Would you know how to receive a business card from a Chinese client without offending them? (There are eight possible ways in which you could cause offence.) Would you know which countries not to show the soles of your shoes when you sat down? How about the correct way to introduce senior colleagues to potential clients?

It’s a minefield, but like most things, once the basic building blocks are learned it becomes much easier. Sadly, fewer companies see the need to invest in training (of the protocol variety or any other) and this is where British business is starting to lose its edge. Other countries ‘get it’ more than we do. It is arrogant of us to think that we are naturally better than everyone else.

The English Manner is holding several business protocol seminars across the UK from June onwards. Our first is at The Radisson Edwardian Hotel in Manchester. Members of Greater Manchester Chamber are entitled to a discount of 10%. When booking at please quote the following code: MANCHESTERCC1

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