Business Etiquette for Dummies

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You’re up for a new job and your prospective boss invites you to dinner. You're presented with a baked potato. If you tear off the foil, wad it into a ball, and set the ball on the tablecloth, the potato may be baked, but your goose is cooked. This, according to Lillian H. Chaney, professor of office management and an expert in business etiquette at the University of Memphis.

Chaney and Jeanette S. Martin, an associate professor at the University of Mississippi business school, are the authors of Global Business Etiquette: A Guide to International Communication and Customs (Praeger Publishers). Some more “Don’ts”:

Don't do like the businesswoman from Texas who showed up at a conference in Antwerp in a bright-green jacket. (Black would have been more appropriate.) And don't do like the man who made the mistake of wearing a tan suit in the dark-suited company of his Tokyo associates. And definitely don't give a striped tie as a gift to an Englishman. It may just represent a British regiment other than his own!

Lessons learned: Mind your manners. Don't look dumb. According to Jeanette Martin, if you're doing business abroad and you have poor etiquette, "it doesn't matter how intelligent you are. You are going to be viewed as stupid."

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