Application of the British Etiquette in Business. Different Peculiarities of the British

Seminar Paper, 2017
11 Pages, Grade: 3
Marcel T. (Author)




Need of business etiquette

Impact of globalization on business etiquette

The peculiarities of the British
First contact
Business clothing
Business gifts
Social contacts in business
Work pace
Personal space
Direct statements
British Humour





Through new communications and more affordable ways to travel, the world becomes a village. This possibility is used both privately and professionally.

Especially in professional contacts adherence to etiquette is therefore of great importance. Each country has its own culture and rules – the written and unwritten. If you want to do business with a country, you need to know it. This shows your respect for the business partner and represents your company.

Although Germany and the UK are in Europe and both are in the EU, there is a big difference between them. As Europe's financial capital city, a lot of international work is being done in London, which is why the peculiarities of the British should be known.

After an introduction into etiquettes and etiquette this seminar paper shows nine different peculiarities of the British. The conclusion will round off the work.

Need of business etiquette

“In action in social life, culture constitutes the unwritten rules of the social game.” (Hofstede, Hofstede, & Minkov, 2010)

Apart from professional expertise, employees are also expected to understand business etiquette and to dress appropriately. The overall appearance is crucial for success. (Wrede-Grischkat, 2006)

Compliance with the etiquette shows an advantage over competitors, so the etiquette of the respective countries should be known. Even unconscious errors can cause a defeat in the negotiation within seconds and therefore become very expensive. (Ruhleder, 2001)

Presenting an etiquette and language has a great significance over the harmony in the conversation. Therefore, all participants should be informed in advance about the practices of the cultures present. (Wrede-Grischkat, 2006)

Etiquette means themselves to behave appropriately and to treat the opposite with respect. This creates a pleasant atmosphere and give all interested parties the opportunity to open. (Ruhleder, 2001)

Impact of globalization on business etiquette

World-wide trades has expanded through globalization. Many countries are dependent on exports. Goods and Services both are exported abroad.

International trading means international economic contacts.

Each country has its own culture and is proud of it. Through international trade the cultures migrate. At the same time, cultures are growing together. Nevertheless, it is important to pay attention to the details to show respect to the business partner.

If a foreigner tries to present the German culture and habits, this should be honored and received attention. Also the language. Even if it is just one word or one phrase. (Uhl & Uhl-Vetter, 2007)

The peculiarities of the British

The British have a world-renowned culture. They are very worldly and interested. Nevertheless, there are details that the British attach great importance and should consider a business partner. Britons can be highly controversial. For this reason, good etiquette should always be taken into consideration. (Engler, 2014)

First contact

In English, you usually speak with your first name. At a first greeting you give your hand. However, this is the only physical contact with British business partners. Men and women give themselves only the hand. Hugs or kisses are unusual in business life. At the first contact you should pay attention to how the business partner presents himself. If he says his first name, you can use it. If the business partner presents himself with Mrs or Mr and his last name, you should only use it. As soon as the business partner offers it, you can address him by his first name.

In the case of a greeting and conversations, it is usual to keep eye contact. This looks friendly and interested. (, 2015)


In Great Britain, time is viewed as an important resource. For this reason, time is not wasted. British are almost always on time and usually come to a meeting earlier than planned. (Steffens, 2016)

If a British is delayed by a few minutes, he apologize for the delay. In most cases, he calls. (Thomson, 2006)

Meetings are planned with an Agenda. The content will be discussed and after the small talk, an appointment will be processed efficiently.

In meetings, British avoid unnecessary expressions which unnecessarily extend an appointment and lead to no result. For additional topics there is usually the point "Any other business".

At a first meeting, business cards are exchanged. They are respected and respected at an appointment. After the appointment the business cards are taken. (Steffens, 2016)

Business clothing

In UK the "dress code" is very important. Good clothing is very important, and the right clothing depends on the industry and the profession. As a rule, British wear very conservative clothing. Men wear a dark suit, but no brown, and women wear a business suit or conservative dresses. At an appointment, it is important to dress well. It shows respect and appreciation towards the business partner. The shoes are also important. Men wear black leather shoes and women's high shoes. Whoever comes to a business meeting with wrong clothes is usually addressed. It is always better to dress up than casual. In doubt, chicer is better. At a first appointment, it is not uncommon to be informed about the "dress code".

London City is always working in a suit. There, good clothes are viewed very conservatively. (Tungate, 2005)

Business gifts

In UK, gifts are different by industry. In business situations gifts are rarely given away. Some companies have already forbidden the acceptance of gifts. For compliance reasons, the acceptance and awarding of gifts in companies is regulated. This is to prevent bribery. Also the acceptance of advantages, travels and expensive restaurants is regulated by companies. The same applies to the award. (Livermore, The Cultural Intelligence Difference, 2011)

If you want to make a gift to a British business partner, make sure it is not too expensive. This prevents the business partner from embarrassment.

If you do not receive a gift from the business partner, this is not meant in person. Mostly, it is forbidden. A fitting gift for a British business partner are souvenirs from their own home.

Social contacts in business

The British talk a lot. Often small-talk is made with colleagues and business partners. The goal is to get to know better. In the case of small talk, attention must be paid to which subjects are addressed. (Livermore, Leading with Cultural Intelligence, 2009)

British do not like it when one becomes too personal.

With the British it is normal to drink tea. But also coffee is not uncommon. During the work you go regularly to drink tea. You talk about professional and private things. To refuse an invitation to tea is rude. This is not about drinking tea but talking.

It is better to connect and go again after a short time than reject. Social contacts are often continued after work. After work, many colleagues go together drinking or eating.

An invitation from a colleague should not be rejected. It is better to connect and go again after a short time than reject. Social events are an opportunity to make new contacts and find friends. British are very open on this events. (Livermore, The Cultural Intelligence Difference, 2011)

Work pace

The working pace in UK is neither particularly fast, nor particularly slow. The tempo and the working attitude is different in every industry. Business meetings are carried out very quickly and work is carried out efficiently in most offices. However, there are also differences in the different companies.

As a foreigner you should adjust to the pace of your colleagues and rather work a little faster than too slow. If you work too slowly you are quickly described as lazy. If you work faster than anyone else, you are called motivated.

In the UK it is normal to make small-talk during work. This small-talk takes place among colleagues in the office or the corridor and the social rooms. Also with customers and business partners is made much small-talk. On the phone or before meetings, you talk about social things before you start with the topic. In the personal conversations one gets to know his colleagues and business partners. Nevertheless, the work has to be done. Not only private conversations can be conducted. (Gundling, Caldwell, & Cvitkovich, 2015)

Personal space

British are often reserved and distant to other people at the beginning. At the beginning you should be rather reserved to British. It is considered rude to interfere directly into a strange conversation.

Personal space is important. Getting a British too close is considered disrespectful.

At a first appointment, you give your hand to greeting. After that, it is not uncommon to no longer physically touching. British have proximity only through the language. Physical contact has no place in business life.

When talking to a business partner you should always keep a little distance. The body distance between British is greater than most other people. When a British gives his hand or hugs, this may be returned. The first step should come from the British. This prevents you from feeling unwell at the business partner. (Comfort & Franklin, 2011)


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Application of the British Etiquette in Business. Different Peculiarities of the British
University of applied sciences, Munich
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Marcel T. (Author), 2017, Application of the British Etiquette in Business. Different Peculiarities of the British, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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