How to do business with India – Your largest trading market.

“When India reforms, the world transforms,” PM Narendra Modi said as he addressed the 76th UN Assembly in September 2021. He emphasized India’s comprehensive democracy and its importance to the world.

India, the world’s largest economy, is also the fastest growing economy. With more than half a billion people between the age of 18 to 45 – the Gen Z, India has a younger generation who are more confident, tech-savvy, growth-minded, and believe that innovation and collaboration will solve the worlds’ problems. Hence, there is little reason to refute that India should be the preferred destination to do business. As a matter of fact, India is also home to the 3rd highest number of billionaires in the world – only after the USA and China.

This nation is known for its diversity, with 64 different regional languages, 21 official languages, have 32 states, and each state has its own official language, different food habits, values, and belief systems. The sheer complexity of the nation’s culture is mindboggling. India is among the oldest civilizations in the world. A two-page article will not do it justice; however, knowing a few things about this diverse country will give you an idea about the people and the culture.

I have tried and tested the system over the years. Moreover, as an Indian, I understand the intrinsic nature that drives our culture – the thinking, the motivation, and why we do things the way we do them. This knowledge is priceless for a person of non-Indian origin. When you know the people of the land and how things work there, it is much easier to advance your business, knowing how to avoid the pitfalls.

  1. Indians are a high-context communication country –You might have to spend a considerable amount of time establishing business relationships before you conclude a deal. It is important to build rapport, to visit families and it is culture to invite visitors over a meal. This is unlike our western counterparts, where importance is given to the business dealing alone. In India family and relationships matter. Once you engage with a person, within one or two meetings you will never know whether you are on the same plane as your counterpart. Your Indian partner will judge you by expressions, body language, relationships, posture, social status, previous interactions. The place where you set the meetings, your tone of voice, dress code – everything plays a role.

Greetings – Namaste or Namaskar is the common greeting all over India. Although Indian business people like to shake hands, as well as women in urban cities may shake hands, usually, the folded hand gesture is more comfortable to all. In these days of the global pandemic, a namaste is also probably safer – like the fist bumps in the Western world. Hugs are not common. An Indian businessman may occasionally greet someone with a hug but that is usually only if he knows the other person really well or if they are family; but almost never with the opposite gender.

2. Progressive India- In the past India has been quite infamously known for its lack of punctuality. But this is changing fast; the younger generation is much more sophisticated and professional. They value time. Gone are the days when you waited hours and hours to meet your Indian business partners. The new India is displaying new values. The right ones.

3. Value-conscious people – Indians are far more value-conscious than their global counterparts. Especially in the west. Traditionally Indians are highly price-conscious

But they are now willing to spend on experiences, education, travel, and have a global presence. Nevertheless, an Indian business partner will negotiate for the best deal.

It is often confusing for a foreign partner to recognize the outcome of the meeting, because we do not like to displease people, hence you will never hear the word “NO”. Therefore, it is important for an outsider to understand the underlying meaning of the conversation.

4. India is inherently hierarchical in nature. Decision-making is usually top to down. It is considered disrespectful to be in disagreement with superiors. Start-ups and small businesses are a bit more informal because they are mostly run by the younger generation; it is slowly becoming easier to debate on incongruity.

5. India has extensive trade treaties: Many countries enjoy the benefits of the free commerce movement. A well-developed financial system and competitive tax reforms bring additional ease of doing business here.

Here are a few more quick tips to know my countrymen better

  • Indians are shy, soft-spoken, reserved & speak in a low voice;
  • It will take time to “warm-up” or “get started”
  • Family plays a greater role in decision-making. Mutual dependence and interdependence are large.
  • Public display of affections is discouraged.
  • It is the land of festivals. Before you plan your visits here make a note of holidays. As most of Government offices and privates sectors may not be available for business.

“India is the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for all the shows of all the rest of the globe combined.” – Mark Twain

Hence, reforms in India would transform the world.

A stable economy and a superior financial system designed to attract foreign investment, digital competitiveness, and a massive consumer market make India a lucrative business target for the global community.

Welcome to India; let’s talk business over the Chai (Indian Tea).

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Writen by Kruti SHAH, Licensed Practitioner of ProtocolToday Academy India. 

30 September 2021, India 

Category: Cultural Intelligence 

Reference: KS300921CI


ProtocolToday is an expert organization, Founded by professionals with years of experience in Cultural Intelligence and Soft Diplomacy. They offer well-researched training programs to help you prepare for the international presence. Enhance your abilities to dine, converse, and present at an international stage.

Become discreet and make your mark!


          At one time it has been said, as ingeniously as paradoxical and provocative, that the function of the historian is to “predict the past”, which could well be translated in at least two ways. In the first place, resorting to the traditional Spanish saying,” a past bull, anyone is a bullfighter”, since little merit can be granted to whoever tells us what is already known, for many details that are added to spice it up. On the other hand, it may be convenient to translate that expression in a less ironic way. Good historians are those who tell us what happened before better than others. They turn to documents where contemporaries try to make sense of their own contemporaneity. Leaving the present in the hands of the “present” supposes a certain irremediable precariousness analytical, but they are -we are- contemporaries the only ones who can analyze their contemporaneity. This doesn’t mean ignoring the past or minimizing its relevance. In fact, the contemporary company would become incomprehensible to us by making a clean slate clean of its birth in the early days of modern society, its evolution, and the very different understandings that companies and entrepreneurs have developed about themselves and about the society in which they carry out their activities.

And so we have that, to the perspective of the responsibility of the company in society, a perspective that seems to be consolidating little by little, others begin to be added that complete it, delimit it, deepen it, and extend it. This perspective is none other than communication is one of the several elements that make up this broad generic concept of company responsibility and an unexplored element. If companies communicate, intentionally or unintentionally, and if communication influences culture and in many ways, communication is part of the responsibilities of the company. If companies communicate, intentionally or unintentionally, and if communication influences culture and in many ways, communication is part of the responsibilities of the com

For decades the vision of the company as an organization oriented to the sole achievement of long-term economic benefit has prevailed. Moreover, that search has predominated at the expense of other types of benefits (civic-political, socio-cultural, ethical, and economic in the medium and longer-term). Fortunately, this conception of the company -daughter of its time- has entered into crisis. It has not disappeared, of course, but it can be affirmed that today other business conceptions compete with it that could be described as much more ecological, understanding ecology in a broad sense common to greater attention to the various complexities of everything human.

One of the most widely accepted axioms of communication theory holds that it is impossible to “not communicate”. Everything that is done and said communicates, even what is kept silent or omitted. That axiom, originally enunciated by Paul Watzlawick to explicate human interactions, is equally valid to explain the way in which companies communicate: everything that the company does, says, omits, and is silent influences the cultural environment in which the company finds itself and in which it develops its activities. Therefore, it deserves to be included within the areas of responsibility of the company towards

The company, a fundamental institution born under the protection of the modern world, is going through a crisis that we still cannot see in all its depth. Perhaps because it is the crisis of that same world, perhaps because this crisis business institution cannot be adequately calibrated if it is not accepted that what is essentially in a state critical is our understanding of work as a human activity.

Perhaps we should think that the times have come when organizations understood as techno systems should give way to organizations conceived as ecosystems, organizations in which conceptions of work such as freedom and creativity, as dialogue, communication, and cooperation as solidarity and the personal reality they coexist harmoniously with the understandings of work such as order, discipline, effectiveness, and efficiency. And, at such times, the urgent ethical commitment requires recreating the institutional conditions for companies to functionally act in society and for them to be perceived as such.

The new scenarios call for greater transparency for all organizations that aspire to be functional and sustainable. However, none of it will be possible if companies ignore how and how much public expectations have changed about what is expected of them: not only economic profit but also civic-political, social-cultural, and moral profit. Now, meeting these new shared expectations is something that can only be achieved communicatively.

If what is about is to attend to the multiple intelligences of business organizations, each of which configures areas of action whose spheres of responsibility are related to each other the dilemma between doing or looking is overcome, that is, between leading to carry out actions in which the responsibility of the company is manifested in society and to communicate internally and to society as a whole the performance of such actions.

In effect, considering the economic, civic-political, sociocultural, and ethical dimensions of the organization being again or expansion of meaning that tain is consumed once it is communicated. Not communicating, or not doing it adequately, supposes removing from the creation of meaning the expansive dimension that constitutes and consolidates it, at the same time that deprives the company and the community not only of the knowledge of these benefits but also of the knowledge of their mutual and enriching dependency.

If the company wishes to overcome its traditional and static self-understanding as a techno system to we complexity, it must also accept that if something radically differentiates ecosystems it is their capacity for awareness and communication. And that only those capable of adapting are capable of surviving.

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Written by Leyla YOUNES, is a specialist in public relations, ceremonial, protocol, and organization of congresses and conventions. 

28 September 2021, Argentina

Category: Business Ethics

Reference: LY280921BE

ProtocolToday is an expert organization, Founded by professionals with years of experience in Cultural Intelligence and Soft Diplomacy. They offer well-researched training programs to help you prepare for the international presence. Enhance your abilities to dine, converse, and present at an international stage.

Become discreet and make your mark!


For decades now, the term “cultural intelligence” has become a buzz phrase. As the world comes to grips with the glaring consequences of IT and globalization and continues to find better ways of conducting businesses with people of diverse backgrounds, the expression has assumed a life of its own as an essential element of business growth and development. Of all the definitions of Cultural Intelligence I’ve come across, this one from a Harvard Business Review article resonates the most with me: “Cultural Intelligence is an outsider’s seemingly natural ability to interpret someone’s unfamiliar and ambiguous gestures the way that person’s compatriots would”. It goes beyond emotional intelligence.

African businesses are fast realising the huge implications of the global village which the business environment has become. They must, therefore, prioritize ensuring that the beliefs, values, and communication styles of their global target market are inculcated into every staff member in order to gain a much-needed competitive advantage. Cultural intelligence is such an important aspect of business, especially international business. Every business requires a different cultural approach so as to be on solid terms with the customers you have to interact with. This desired relationship cannot be built if African businesses fail to acquire the resources, talent, and knowledge presented by cultural intelligence. African businesses need to make the right investments in the quality of leaders and employees who have deliberately acquired cultural intelligence skills. These are the people that will cascade the culture down the rank and file, and ensure that colleagues adapt quickly to peculiar and changing environments in their daily dealings with other people.

The dynamism of global business will eventually compel African business entities to make their goods and services more adaptable to international clients from diverse cultural backgrounds. More and more African businesses are becoming aware of this reality as one of the most vital ways of enhancing competitiveness.

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Written by: Noela UGWU, Image Consultant and a communication expert. 

28 ST September 2021, Nigeria

Category: Cultural Intelligence 

Reference: NU280921CI

ProtocolToday is an expert organization, Founded by professionals with years of experience in Cultural Intelligence and Soft Diplomacy. They offer well-researched training programs to help you prepare for the international presence. Enhance your abilities to dine, converse, and present at an international stage.

Become discreet and make your mark!


Human society has undergone a great evolution since the dawn of its birth. Human beings have studied and adapted the world around them to survive and conquer high quotas in terms of quality of life. To better study their environment, a form of research called the scientific method was developed and has evolved throughout history. This is undoubtedly the way in which knowledge is achieved today and it is the only objective and universally valid way.

Unfortunately for people who devote their lives to the practice and investigation of protocol, there is very little developed scientific literature about it. And when it comes to languages, the research work in Spanish is scarce and almost non-existing in English. Since the beginning of time, those who have exercised protocol did not have the need to register or study it, since their knowledge was based on customs and legislation. Thus, it was transmitted from person to person. Over time, people who worked as protocol professionals captured their experience, which has ultimately led to a very rich and developed professional or pragmatic literature. The problem with this approach is that each author, depending on the branch of knowledge from which he or she comes from -law, communication, etc.- and the sector in which they exercise the protocol -official, corporate, or social- sees the discipline in a different way. Therefore, they see and describe their part of the protocolary reality. In the absence of the application of a scientific method that gives an objective and universal approach, it is a particular and “biased” vision that cannot be taken as an absolute truth (Delmás Martín, 2021, p. 2865).

This last perspective on the reality of the existing literature of the protocol has already been described perfectly by Álvarez Rodríguez (2008, p. 162) in a scientific paper. She concluded that this literature is marked by a pragmatic character and that it has been trying to get closer to the academic part. On the other hand, by analyzing the trajectory of the bibliography she concluded that, in Spanish, four different schools or approaches had been generated in which professional literature on protocol could be unified: the diplomatic school, the historical approach, the law school, and the community approach.

The first of these is the diplomatic perspective. The author considered as its father was José Antonio de Urbina. He practiced law for many years and was diplomatic, therefore, it is not hard to imagine why he was the one who considered protocol as a tool for mutual understanding between nations or cultures.

Secondly, we have the legal school which, as its name suggests, focuses the study of the protocol mainly on the laws: norms, customs, and legal rules that have been adopted over the course of time. It’s meaningful when we think of it since professionals in this field base their work on these laws and norms that are the essence of the science of protocol. It made an impression on professionals very quickly at the time, and it is what currently has led many professionals and scholars of the subject to consider that it is the only protocol that comes from the official since it comes mainly from existing legislation. From my personal perspective, and after having studied the scientific literature, this point of view is partial and does not allow us to acquire a holistic view of the protocol. The most representative author of this legal trend is Francisco López-Nieto.

The third approach is the historical one. It basically focuses its study on the narration of the traditions, customs, and social uses that have been happening throughout history. It makes very important contributions as well as the previous ones. We consider Felio A. Vilarrubias as the most outstanding author of this current.

Finally, we have the communicative perspective. This is what has driven the protocol to a great extent among protocol professionals. Considering it as a communication tool for public and private organizations, and generator of reputation and brand image has kicked off its study in the areas of communication sciences to obtain the greatest possible benefit from it. It is one of the most popular today and has the most followers and scholars.

To summarize, regarding schools, two clarifications can be made by the author, which I refute from my study of the subject: the first is that, although the different schools have been happening over time, none of them has annulled the previous ones. All of them are considered valid and bring a vision to the discipline. On the other hand, a very clear conclusion emerges, and that is that none of these fields of study of the protocol can fully provide solutions to the needs of the discipline at present on its own. However, together they give us more meaning.

Therefore, in order to understand the protocol in its fullness, we must see it from the diplomatic, historical, legal, and communication perspective, but also from the sociology, anthropology, and other disciplines (Bernad Monferrer, Rubio Calero, & Delmás Martín, 2021, p. 2758). Protocol is like a prism with many faces and only by looking at it from all of them will we fully be able to understand it and develop the science of protocol.


Álvarez Rodríguez, M. L. (2008). Nociones de protocolo desde la bibliografía de sus autoridades. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, (63), 165-173.

Bernad Monferrer, E., Rubio Calero, D., & Delmás Martín, D. (2021). Protocolo: dispersión de su conocimiento en otros campos. En La comunicación a la vanguardia. Tendencias, métodos y perspectivas. (pp. 2737-2759). Madrid: Editorial Fragua.

Delmás Martín, D. (2021). Una experiencia en análisis de contenido de definiciones de protocolo propuestas por profesionales del sector. En La comunicación a la vanguardia. Tendencias, métodos y perspectivas. (pp. 2846-2869). Madrid: Editorial Fragua.

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Written by Daniel DELMÁS, Professional of events and protocol. 

28 September 2021, The Netherlands

Category: International Protocol

Reference: DD280921IP

ProtocolToday is an expert organization, Founded by professionals with years of experience in Cultural Intelligence and Soft Diplomacy. They offer well-researched training programs to help you prepare for the international presence. Enhance your abilities to dine, converse, and present at an international stage.

Become discreet and make your mark!


Nowadays all companies look for that differentiating element from their competitors in order to improve their corporate image before the different interest groups or stakeholders.

The companies invest in R + D + i (Research + Development and innovation) for the constant improvement of the product, but a plus to the service, would be the protocol as a differentiating element, so it will be explained, how this tool can improve the corporate image.

Within corporate communication, everything communicates and the image that we project as a company as well. Therefore, the question arises: What is the corporate image?

The corporate image is what the company says + what the company does, this is the image.

Having a positive image helps in:

  • Obtain the respect and acceptance of the public.
  • Enhance the image of the brand.

How can the Business Protocol help our corporate image?

In order to answer this question, it is important to know some key concepts.

The protocol is the set of rules established by law or tradition, uses, and customs for the performance of a certain official act and unofficial acts. Within the protocol, we can find the official protocol, military protocol, religious protocol, university protocol, sports protocol among others, but there is also the business protocol and it is the one that is developed within the corporations. Therefore, the protocol is not only framed within the palatine (typical of the palaces) but it can be a differential tool of the corporate image. It is therefore important to understand that this discipline is one more tool in communication at the service of the company.

Good protocol transmits messages and shows outwardly that the company or home is in order. So the protocol in the business environment has become a necessity. It is a tool to achieve excellence.

Protocol in the company is:

  • Courtesy.
  • Care for the image of the company and its staff.
  • The speeches.
  • Design of spaces and scenarios in events and meetings.
  • Taking care of the guests.

It is important to develop an internal protocol manual, which includes rules and recommendations, for the preparation of acts, as well as aspects of a more social nature, such as a personal image.

In company events, it is important to formalize events in order to enhance the corporate image and see it as a differentiating element in corporate communication. The events that can be organized are corporate events (work meetings, signing of agreements, general meeting of shareholders, awards ceremony), as well as commercial events (fairs, congresses, presentations), other events (laying the first stone, site visit, inaugurations and discovery of commemorative plaques); external events, with social repercussion regularly organized by third parties (sponsorship of events), thereby enhancing the image of the company.

Well-managed acts will help to enhance the image of the company.

The parts of the protocol act in company events are the following:

  • Corporate symbols, such as the company logo which must be present on the institutional flag, which will bear the company colors, invitations, advertising banner for the event, etc. It should be noted that the logo of the company must be in the photography points such as the presidency table.
  • The host and the presidency, the host is the person who motivates the act, has a great responsibility in making decisions. He is the image and represents the company on the spot.
  • The guests, a guest list must be established, with their respective treatment. Those guests must be ordered (authorities, guests of honor, special guests, collaborators, clients, sponsors, general guests, and consorts). 
  • The reception of guests defines who receives, from where they receive. Precedents and treatments.
  • VIP room, is an exclusive area, a comfortable area, with a private bathroom, drinks, and meals. It is a waiting room until the event begins. 
  • The speeches have a particular formula for each type of event, so the head of the protocol cabinet will be the one who gives the guideline.
  • Access and event security; 
  • Accreditations;
  • Institutional gifts or corporate gifts help to generate good institutional relationships and go hand in hand with the courtesy that is printed on these details, which will be aligned with the company’s policy and detailed in a corporate gift catalog, which will have levels for different audiences (partners, suppliers, visitors, etc.), this will help us to know what to give and when to give;
  • The book of honor is a book whose purpose is that all the personalities and guests of honor who attend the events organized by the company can sign it. Made of a material that enhances and adorns it with an embossed silver cover for example and must have the company logo.
  • The dismissal at the events also has a protocol to follow, the most important authority being the one who leaves the event first and will be accompanied by the person who received it from the company, generating a feeling in the visitor of having been attended at all times, both on arrival and at the farewell.

Finally, it is good to measure the impact and results. Tailored events have to be organized, being creative, impactful, and with content, generating a memorable memory.

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Written by: MG. Jorge PRADO, Master in public relations, events, and Protocol, an expert in Corporate Communication. 

19 September 2021, PERU

Category: BP

Reference: JP19-0921P

ProtocolToday is an expert organization, Founded by professionals with years of experience in Cultural Intelligence and Soft Diplomacy. They offer well-researched training programs to help you prepare for the international presence. Enhance your abilities to dine, converse, and present at an international stage.

Become discreet and make your mark!


Cellular Phone’s.

For everyone, the mobile phone has become an indispensable tool. Executives, and people in the business world, are no exception. On the contrary, they use this tool to make work and contacts effective in a much more practical way than we would have imagined 20 years ago.

Precisely, because of the importance of its use at a business level, some standards set forth in the branch of NETiqueta; must be observed with greater care to give it proper use without harming our personal projection.

Here are some well-known standards and other tips that can help you improve your professional image:

  • The golden rule in the network’s world is: “The values ​​that we show in our personal and work life, must transcend with more force in our online life.” Respect, empathy, and other values ​​such as honesty, transparency, consideration, etc., are the basis under the principle of treating others, as we would like to be treated.
  • Let’s modulate our voice tone when we are talking on the cell phone. Even in the middle of a very noisy party, we do not need to shout since the new cell phones are equipped with powerful filters that neutralize background noises and help our voice to be heard by our interlocutor, with relative clarity. In all public places, the moderation of the volume when we are speaking is important. If the person on the other side of the line cannot hear us and we are forced to raise our voice, it is appropriate to cover our mouth with the hand to minimize the resonance.
  • Let’s use good judgment with the ringtones and notification tones considering the circumstances in which we are going to be involved. It is a detail that could make a difference in the image we want to show. As another act of courtesy, let’s avoid setting the ringtone for several minutes. When our favorite melody in the world begins to sound, let’s keep in mind that it is not for the entertainment of those around us. If we are executives or business people, let’s remember that our long loud ringtones that can be annoying.
  • We need to be careful with call hours, and even messages. Traditional rules of Etiquette for landlines have been in place for many decades. We must be considerate of the schedules of our interlocutors. Not before 07:30 in the morning, during meal and nap hours, nor after 10:00 p.m. seeing the person “online” does not mean that they are available and forced to answer us.
  • When we make a call, after a quick greeting, our first sentence should be the question: “Can you speak?” Perhaps the person who has answered us (no matter how closely or trustworthy are) is in the middle of a meeting, driving, or in any event that is not the right one to take our call.
  • The easy availability that technology gives us to call and contact, does not give us the right to interrupt or impose our need for a response. Let’s not assume that the person on the other side of the line has an obligation to attend to us immediately. If we are the ones who make the call, we have to think that it is not appropriate to insist on the calls, one after another, or to make “never-ending” calls until they finally answer us. Under a logical criterion, let’s think that everyone has their cell phones close enough to answer it immediately, so three rings should be more than enough to assume that the other person is not going to answer; So, on the third ring, let’s cut the call.
  • Is necessary to obey the rules of the ” No Cell Phone Use Zones”. When attending conventions, conferences, or certain places, you can see signs with the prohibition of cell phone use, or notes asking that it please be turned off. If so, as a well-educated person, this recommendation should be observed and followed.
  • The table in any dining room is a prohibited area for cell phones. It is considered a place of ceremonial, to eat, share, talk and interact in a personal and direct way. Within the rules of Etiquette, cell phones do not have space at the table. In the business world, the cell phone should be put on silent or turned off for the time of a business meal and much better, kept in our briefcase or purse.
  • It is also not correct to hold it in our hand or place it exposed in the outer pocket. In addition, it is a matter of taking care of the image, since carrying the cell phone in the hand or in a very conspicuous place, can be taken as an attitude of ostentation or insecurity.
  • When we enter a meeting or interview, the mobile should never be put on the table or on the desk. It is a very negative non-verbal language signal that conveys what we are focused on, and what we give more importance or attention to.
  • In a face-to-face meeting, if a call or message is received, we should not answer. The smart thing is, to assess its importance or urgency to apologize if it becomes necessary to respond. The live conversation takes precedence over a virtual conversation and if we have to answer, let us try to be brief out of respect for our interlocutor or interlocutors who deserve our full attention. We will ask for the necessary permission to leave the place and answer, trying to move to a place far enough away where our conversation does not disturb. Upon returning, we will give the excuses due for the intrusion. It should be known that it is not correct to start talking in the middle of a meeting, even in a low voice, or covering our mouth to make it less annoying. It is a disrespectful attitude that interrupts and distracts those present. In the same way, it is a terrible lack of respect, that, in the midst of other people, we get distracted using the functions or applications of the device or worse, checking the notifications of our networks. They are details that can wait. Surely, if something most important comes up, a call will happen.
  • We must be prudent choosing the type of messages we send, since it is assumed that, if we send something, it is because we agree with its content or in some way, it reflects our tastes, education, or position in relation to certain situations. Let’s be careful not to offend or cause discomfort.
  • An appointment should not be canceled by message. Ideally, do it through a call. It will be a show of good manners and respect.
  • The way in which we write our messages or the images that we use must be a matter of care. Let us remember that it shows our level of training, good education, and consideration to those who read us. As a rule, within NETiquette, it should not be written in capital letters (CAPS), as it is a manifestation of raising one’s voice or shouting. On the other hand, we should not write in red or use emoticons if we are not completely sure of the meaning or use for which they have been created. To insist on good spelling and grammar, doesn’t hurt.

Finally, without the intention of being obstinate of undermining the freedom of the mobile phone user, and which may be considered by the owner “indispensable” (with few exceptions), we should consider that for many generations it has been possible to subsist without this device and at present, due to the little knowledge of many, it has become a device of common use but of annoying abuse and that must be governed under the principles of the “REC Formula”: Respect, Education and Common Sense, like a base of all the rules of Etiquette & Protocol.

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Written by: Claudia STOHMANN R. de A. Communicator, speaker, writer, etiquette, and protocol expert. 

14 September 2021, Bolivia 

Category: Business Etiquette 

Reference: CS140921BE


ProtocolToday is an expert organization, Founded by professionals with years of experience in Cultural Intelligence and Soft Diplomacy. They offer well-researched training programs to help you prepare for the international presence. Enhance your abilities to dine, converse, and present at an international stage.

Become discreet and make your mark!



In Chinese culture, the corporate image has Western connotations: Businessmen wear suits in neutral colors such as gray or navy blue, and ties in subdued and conservative colors. Such garments are not the rule, their use is not common in business meetings, but they are mandatory in institutional meetings.

Women will usually wear suits or dresses of conservative style and colors; high-necked, long-sleeved blouses; since, if the woman shows “too much skin” it can be seen as an offensive attitude. Due to the emphasis on conservative style and modesty in clothing, the shoes have to be flat or with a low heel, the high heel in footwear for women, – even more so if you are taller than the hosts – is only acceptable at official receptions offered by a foreign diplomat.

At this type of formal event, men should wear a suit and tie, since the tuxedo or other Western Etiquette wearing, is not part of Chinese culture.

It is common for entrepreneurs to wear suits in dark tones and classic models. Bright colors or any other non-traditional details will generally be viewed as inappropriate. As for informal clothing, it should be conservative, without attracting much attention. Jeans are acceptable within the range of casual clothing for both, men and women. Shorts are reserved exclusively for exercise, regardless of the prevailing temperature.

Greetings and introductions:

As a general rule within Eastern culture, the Chinese do not give access to physical contact at greeting time. Tapping on the back, touching on the arm, kisses or hugs, is not part of good oriental manners. For them, it is not correct to express feelings in public.

Although reverence is no longer the most common of manners these days in China, there has been in recent decades a symbiosis between the eastern with the western ways. Until Covid 19 era, the westernization of the greeting was accepted, admitting the handshake as something normal in the business world. However, when they agree to the handshake, they perform said greeting, slightly inclining their head.  In a conventional way, -unlike the Japanese greeting-, the Chinese people make the reverence from the shoulders to waist. If we are faced with this greeting, let’s remember this characteristic and we will make a slight inclination of the body, throwing the shoulders forward. With the handshake, it is recommended to wait for the Chinese hosts to offer the hand first.

At the greeting time, the rule is to address those of older age or rank first and, if you have a large group in front of you, we will usually notice that they will form a line with the most important or highest ranking at the head. Usually, the one with the highest rank will be the first to enter the room.

If introductions are to be made, formality governs and formal titles should be used. The order is: last name plus first name, accompanying the job position. If the title or position of the person is not known, it is best to call them “Sir” (Xiānshēng), “Madam” (Tàitài) or Miss (Xiǎojiě), a contact from this region will never be called by name or just by the last name. For example, if we are introduced to Miss Lin Jinhao, we will call her “Miss Lin”, but never directly by her first name.

By tradition, the Chinese will write the last name first, then the middle name, and finally the first. The second name is the one that is often used among family and friends. In certain business and diplomatic circles, the protocol imposes the enunciation of the title or rank, as, for example, the “President X”, the “The parliamentarian Y”, or the “General Z” and is part of the general protocol, not to refer to a Chinese businessman just by the surname. The last name must be accompanied by the position or job functions: For example: “Secretary Ma”, “Director Chen”.

As a special recommendation, when we are introduced to someone, we might choose a short and easy-to-pronounce name. If they do not remember it, it is not uncommon if they call us in ways that are easy for them to say or with nicknames that relate to our physical characteristics, such as “short redhead” or “tall skinny”, which probably, we would not like.

There are up to 12 different ways to say “Hello”, but in the business world, the formal and respectful greeting is 您好 (nínhǎo) or 喂. (Wéi). The word “pīnyīn”, is the greeting used exclusively to answer the phone. The most used phrase is “Nǐ hǎo ma?” which has a significance similar to “How are you?”, to which you must answer Hǎo! Xièxiè!  (I am good, thank you!).

There are other casual forms of greeting, many proven Western greetings for informal circumstances, and if more is required, they can be found at this link:

An un-common use in the western world occurs when we are received by a group of people. If we go to a theater, school, or workplace, and they give us welcoming applause, we should return the attention with the same gesture of a short clap.

If we are subject to present ourselves in public, the greeting and our expression should show self-control, modesty, and politeness. In dealing with them, their shyness or introverted attitude could mislead our first impression. It is not rude, much less hostility. On the contrary, for them, it is a show of respect.

It is somewhat common that the first question to start a conversation is if we have eaten and even if we have not, you have to say “yes”. 

Business card:

As customary, it is suggested that it be presented in two languages: on one side, in our local language (or in English, which is the international language of business) and on the other, in Chinese; better still, in the dialect of the place of our contact. (For this, you can go to the local advisor who provides the necessary information). This elegant show of consideration and courtesy will be appreciated by our interlocutors.

Another important consideration when printing our cards will be to take care of their color and ink. Do not use colored ink that could have a special meaning for them. One of the best choices is the golden types: for them, means good luck, prosperity, and prestige.

For design, it is advisable to use black and white, understanding that, in Chinese culture, color does not mean the same when it comes to writing. For example, you should never write in red as it reminds them of the blood and the great problems of their cultural revolution. As for the characters, it will be better to use the simple characters of the Chinese script and not the classic characters that are usually used in Taiwan or Hong Kong.

If, in addition to the People’s Republic of China, you visit companies from Taiwan and Hong Kong, it is better to have two different types of cards for Taiwan and Hong Kong. If we get confused at the time of giving them, it could cause some kind of setback or compromised situation.

Reporting on the prestige or position that one has, acquires a lot of importance at the time of business; since they like to know with whom they speak and to know if we have any decision-making power in making final agreements. It would be better if an important meeting was attended by a manager of important rank. In the same way, if the company being represented is one of the largest in the country or one of the oldest, it is recommended to include this information on the business card or indicate it in the presentations, as they are very detailed and valuable for them.

Within the Chinese Etiquette, business cards are exchanged at the beginning of any meeting and it should be planned to have enough to give one to each person who attends it, considering that, -in most cases-, Chinese delegations tend to be numerous.

When they are handed in, they must be given with both hands and with the Chinese design visible (that is, on the face that is written in Chinese or in the local dialect) and we must be accepted with both hands at the corners, showing interest in it (that is, we must look closely at what the card shows). With that, they assume that we are showing interest, as a duly courteous attitude, to confirm that we are interested in the information that is detailed there. Crucial care is to never cover the name with our fingers (the name in the card we are being handed), as it is considered an offense (It is attributed to the fact that the name printed on the card is a physical representation of their spirit).

We don’t put the card directly into the purse, wallet, folder, or cardholder without looking; or throw it on the table, or worse: put it in our pocket; they will be considered like rude acts. Keeping cards below the waistline (jacket pockets, pants, back pocket, etc.) is also assumed to be disrespectful, as is writing on a business card. All of these are attitudes that go beyond the established rules of Etiquette for doing good business in that country.

It is clarified that the ancient Chinese tradition indicated giving and receiving these cards with head’s reverence, but as said, it is no longer common; however, if it is done, it will gain the respect of the contacts.

These first steps, at the moment of initiating contact, will help us to open the doors in this eastern world. The following publications will provide more information for this culture of demanding behavior.

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Written by: Claudia STOHMANN R. de A. Communicator, speaker, writer, etiquette and protocol expert, and ProtocolToday writer. 

14 September 2021, Bolivia 

Category: Cultural Intelligence

Reference: CS140921CI

ProtocolToday is an expert organization, Founded by professionals with years of experience in Cultural Intelligence and Soft Diplomacy. They offer well-researched training programs to help you prepare for the international presence. Enhance your abilities to dine, converse, and present at an international stage.

Become discreet and make your mark!


In an article by ABC News Australia on June 26th, 2015, it was revealed that “emu and crocodile” would be, “off the menu for foreign diplomats dining at Australia’s Government House in Canberra.” Stated the then-Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, “We don’t want to confront our guests without some warning.” The guests included diplomats from Japan, South Korea, India, and the United States.  

Part of any diplomatic mission is to promote one’s country, provide advice and support to ministers developing foreign policy, and create trade opportunities.  Part of a diplomat’s toolkit is being aware of cultural nuances and using etiquette to better relationships.

The inaugural winter solstice feast hosted at Yarralumla, the residence of the Governor-General, “showcased some of the finest Australian food, all sourced locally, including Cowra lamb, Tumut River trout, duck from Young (located in the state of NSW), and kangaroo fillets” accompanied with Indigenous flavors such as lemon myrtle and bush pepper. It was reported that in his opening address, the Governor-General had joked about “Australia’s past gourmet reputation.” Careful preparation and forethought went into planning this event, due to mistakes made previously in Australia’s past efforts in dining diplomacy. 

Successful dining and entertaining at royal and government levels build alliances in every culture represented. Everyone at the event is creating a shared experience that increases trust and open communication.  History has noted that there has been protocol in dining events with those who have been rulers, royal families and those that are representative of those rulers, for thousands of years.

Using the correct dining etiquette at these events has always made a difference in the success of these events.  On a psychological level, navigating a complicated place setting, with numerous implements, shows your guest that you are competent and have the innate ability to overcome a challenge.  Showing diplomacy at a dining event tells your host that you have respected their thought to include you and their work to successfully pull an event together. Just think of all that went into it; the seating arrangements, order of procession, invitations, and food considerations, including guests cultural or religious views. These all come into play when organizing such an event.

What about Australia’s past protocol’s when their Head of Commonwealth came to visit?  In 1954, Queen Elizabeth II with Duke of Edinburgh visited Australia, in all they attended four state banquets and six garden parties. Local produce was high on the Australian government’s agenda, wanting to highlight to ‘her Majesty’ that Australia was a real contender for overseas markets.  What was on her menu for lunch?  Tropical fruits, local fish and poultry with English inspired vegetables, and locally produced wines to match each course served.

Fifty-one years later in 2005, Prince Charles visited Australia to focus on environmental sustainability, community integration and excellence in public service.  As part of his visit, His Royal Highness was transported to Alice Springs and dined on bush tucker, including honey ants, acia seeds, bush tomato and bush banana. The Prince tasted both the bush banana and bush tomato, but he reportedly politely refused to eat any wriggly, witchetty grub, regardless of it being so high in protein. 

For 60,000 years, the Indigenous people of Australia have continued to be the custodians of the land. Colonization started in the late 17th century, where Great Britain used it as a penal colony or prison. As a result, those from England, Wales, and Ireland who settled in Australia dispossessed the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders of the lands they were born to and forced them into a system of colonial rule, while they retained many of their customs and culture.

The Indigenous foraged for food from rainforests to the deserts, using their mealtimes as a mechanism for families and tribes to gather and come together, for ceremony and trade.  Meals continue to be served around where the food is cooked, sitting on the ground.  Fingers are used to break up meats and vegetables.  

Do the Indigenous have a dining protocol?  Yes, they certainly do. Each tribe may have foods that they eat or avoid and have a story that guides the family in their eating habits. During a meal, the best portions of food are given as a sign of respect to the Elders of the tribe.  Adhering to their customs of dining is crucial, as is taking the initiative to eat their foods. In doing so, a guest honors and shows respect to the traditions, land, and people. And that is what it all really is about… respect!

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 Written by: By Elizabeth Soos, Founder of Auersmont School of Etiquette 

14 September 2021, Australia

Category: Protocol

Reference: ES140921PI

ProtocolToday is an expert organization, Founded by professionals with years of experience in Cultural Intelligence and Soft Diplomacy. They offer well-researched training programs to help you prepare for the international presence. Enhance your abilities to dine, converse, and present at an international stage.

Become discreet and make your mark!