INTERNATIONAL PROTOCOL AND SOFT DIPLOMACY CONFERENCE 2021
Knowledge about diplomacy, protocol, culture, and soft skills, in the current era of unavoidable global relationships, is essential to achieving business objectives. A successful business deal begins with comfortable relationships between the parties involved. It involves, among others, good manners, interpersonal intelligence, empathy, body language, assertive communication, personal image, and mutual appreciation.
Within this context, the “International Protocol and Soft Diplomacy Conference” was successfully held on Thursday 9 (in English) and Friday (in Spanish) 10 December 2021. The conference was organized by PROTOCOLTODAY, a prestigious Dutch consultancy and academy firm specialized in protocol consultancy and international business skills training. ProtocolToday is also the publisher of the Global Mindset Magazine. The conference featured prominent speakers, approximately 100 participants from 33 countries, more than 12 embassies, international entrepreneurs and managers, and journalists from Diplomat Magazine EU.
This conference dealt with topics aimed at complementing those issues that, on multiple occasions, are omitted despite their enormous importance in negotiations with clients and possible strategic partners.
The program started with a presentation by Professor Dewanand Mahadew, CEO of NewEconomyStrategies (The Netherlands) on “Impactful Communication in International Business”. He emphasized the need to be cautious and tactful in order to avoid offensive situations. Knowledge about communication and the ability to understand others is key to good negotiations. Staying calm and positive is essential.” He recommended applying understanding, empathy, respect, prudence, and compassion.
He highlighted the urgency of “knowing how to navigate through the world easily. That is, being able to ‘feel at home to avoid being seen as strangers. For this, we must develop a global mentality and understand and learn about culture, politics, and economic systems to become familiar with the country we are visiting”. His speech included globalization by specifying: “The globalized world requires connecting skills. This means feeling comfortable and being loved in the places we visit. We must have the ability to connect with other people despite existing differences. “
He referred to interpersonal skills to “communicate, persuade and negotiate, and also to have a critical mindset.” That is, being aware of what we do in a creative and responsible way and enjoying a correct image. He suggested developing the “skills of knowledge, learning, and imagination.” Finally, he commented on the importance of appearance and the way we express ourselves, verbally and non-verbally, in a business conversation. Apart from the first impression generated is the profile that will be made of us.
René Spaan, leader of the Smart Mobility project (The Netherlands), addressed “Personal Anecdotes Working with Mexican Diplomacy”. He began with a revelation inherent in his experience: “If you work as many people, there may be those who do not keep their word”, alluding to the absence of seriousness in the business environment. He placed special emphasis on credibility and on “legal and financial” factors in business.
Based on his recognized career, he recommended, when entering into trade agreements with Mexico, “to understand Mexican culture in order to become familiar with the cultural factors of the country in which you do business”. He was forceful in reiterating that the Aztec country is not “pure drug trafficking or illicit activities” as is frequently exhibited through the media. It is a nation with extraordinary investment potential and has a rich historical diversity.
Gerardo Correas, president of the International School of Protocol (Spain), discussed “Protocol: Sentiment to Communicate” established several conclusive details aimed at understanding the function of the protocol and asserted “the protocol is nothing other than techniques to organize and they must occupy in each country depending on the current forms of communication. You have to place it in the context in which we live”.
He commented on working on the different emotions of the participants in an event in order to make it an experience and suggested that the social sciences should be incorporated into the protocol to guarantee the proposed objective. He was conclusive when he said: “Each event should be an experience that channels feelings and emotions.”
He alluded to the “personal brand” and how it contributes to distinguishing, define and differentiate. “To single out and enhance the brand of the entity we must generate impact,” he said. It is a job that is the responsibility, in an organized way, to all areas of the company and “thinking about a global communication strategy.” Finally, he noted, “We must change the language or the words that protocol experts use to suit the public. It corresponds to transfer the message of the protocol in a simple way to society”.
Adriana Flores, an expert in Protocol & Diplomacy, and founder of ProtocolToday (The Netherlands) spoke on the topic “The Impact of Protocol and Diplomatic Skills in International Business” commented on how “internationalization” has affected our lives around the world. Therefore, she said, “we must know how to connect and be trained to deal with entrepreneurs and suppliers. For this, we need to know the rules of etiquette, protocol, and professional ethics”.
She highlighted the importance of knowledge in permanent professional growth and how “they will facilitate the opening of new doors in the workplace” and emphasized, “each of us must be the best ambassador of their own country in the world.” She shared her varied experience – in various international settings – and suggested creating a “business life” style to work.
She also referred to the connotation of “personal image” and advised, “making the first good impression with impact. In business, etiquette is very important. We must adapt to the place where we are going to do business”. She reflected on deferential behavior that includes values, ethics, and an impeccable track record that inspires respect and trust.
She also stressed that “we must be aware of the hierarchies of the country we visit and know the flags and symbols. The flags of a company should not be next to the emblems of the States. We must know about the matters concerning gift giving and receiving. Companies and embassies must have their own gift protocol where they establish prices, details, and delivery methods. It is a symbol of friendship that means you are important, we appreciate it” and she suggested giving the professional card according to the cultural context of the nation.
Héctor G. Pérez, president of the Enlazadot Business Chain (Mexico) stressed “Business Resilience”. He made a broad and interesting account of the business situation in his country and stated “in Mexico when it goes bad is when we get the most strength”. He highlighted “resilience” as the ability to adapt to an adverse situation, obtaining positive results.
He was categorical in his vision about the process of adaptation and evolution in Mexico for the times to come. “Social networks and digitization have helped raise money,” he said. Finally, he gave a hopeful message by influencing: “We must believe in ourselves. It is not worth it if we do not believe in each one of us. It is a seasoning in us. We have to be empathetic with others in adverse moments. “
An enriching, reflective meeting, full of contributions and aimed at highlighting the scope and value, in its real and broad connotation, of protocol as a component of corporate work. Therefore, an imperative discipline to apply in our continuous efforts for professional growth. I evoke the pertinent reflection of Adriana Flores: “The power of protocol is important; it is the art of communication.