Posts Tagged ‘etiquette


The Death of Manners?

“ – Your Future Starts Here” has gathered some interesting, and fairly recent, U.S. statistics on Etiquette … Beware the Zombies!


“Show me a country’s etiquette, and I will show you its mind”

Here at The Image Builders we feel very strongly that Etiquette is only fully understood if studied in the context of culture. This article from China Daily newspaper supports this belief. Food for thought!

Someone once said, “A man who does not pay attention to business etiquette is a man who has not taken the time to reflect on his mission, other than to make money. A man who thinks only of etiquette is a superficial man.”

Etiquette provides an entree to the science and civilization of a country influenced greatly by its history. It is developed over time from a variety of sources, but they all reflect the culture and traditions of that nation. If you want to do good business you need to understand the context of the people you are doing business with. That must include their culture and traditions. It is part of the key to their thinking, their aims and their ways.

That is why foreigners and Chinese need to understand the etiquette of one another.

In the early days of trade with China from the early 1950s through to the early 1990s, etiquette was a part of the formal way of doing business. China always remained firmly in control of the processes inside China, where most of the business with the country was done.

This changed when businesses moved to each other’s ports into joint ventures inside China for export from China, and then for export and also for sales within China. The basis for the exchange began to alter.

But just as business dealings at one level were becoming more intimate and informal, the formalities in dealings at higher levels were maintained and indeed became more important.

In the old world, foreign trade corporations based in Beijing dealt with foreign companies and those who worked for them, but in this brave new world the reins were taken up by companies and people in the provinces. In the days of the central foreign trade organizations the processes were extremely stiff and formal, reflecting the way State leaders dealt with their foreign counterparts; under the new regime pragmatism became the key to doing business.

What became most important was who was doing business with whom rather than the elaborate processes by which they were doing it.

Nevertheless, at the higher echelons, rules of etiquette and of how things should be done continued to apply. There were the dinners, backroom meetings and letters of intent.

In most countries with developed etiquette it is customary to observe formalities before beginning a meal or a meeting. Is this all some kind of game that discriminates between those who are educated and those who are not? Is it a ridiculous caper that has no significance other than to make people feel uneasy?

Sometimes it has that appearance, that effect. Sometimes it is used that way. Sometimes we all feel uncomfortable as we clearly make a mistake in matters etiquette. But this is not the main point. These are aspects of etiquette, side effects of etiquette. For those who are serious about wanting to get to know the background to other cultures so they can create a more stable basis for their business, etiquette is part of understanding the “other side”.

Some might say that etiquette in some countries is so overdefined that it becomes almost a barrier to doing business. This may be true. In these cases etiquette has been lifted to a higher level where it is difficult to manage. That is so in some countries, and certainly I found this to be the case in China during the “cultural revolution” (1966-76) where, sometimes, everything you did and said was watched and judged.

But really etiquette is a way a country expresses its culture and traditions and needs to be understood as part of developing one’s skills to manage relationships with business partners. It is not a test. If raised to that level it is a deterrent to developing relations, becoming one-sided and onerous.

Accepting your partners’ ways and forms is a reasonable thing to do, but you also need to be able to relax and not feel that you are under pressure. So listen, observe and take advice to try to get the etiquette right. Do not be difficult for the sake of it. But if you do transgress, do not worry too much. Move on.

One rationale for etiquette is that people develop ways of doing things and feel comfortable with those ways. So work with them and let them unfold and try to go along with them. The best thing to keep in mind is “When in Rome do as the Romans do.”

As you learn and observe etiquette you learn about the background of your partners.

The West has misunderstood China for a long, long time. It does not comprehend that China is a very deep and ancient civilization whose ways go back 5,000 years. Sometimes the ways China has developed can hold them back, can appear difficult for foreigners, but mostly we need to learn that China has contributed more to the science and civilization of the world than any other nation. So its etiquette is an aspect of this rich and wonderful history.

As China needs to learn about the outside world, so foreigners need to learn about China. Going through the formalities of etiquette is neither right nor wrong, good nor bad; it is simply learning about China. So if you want to do business in China then you had better learn about the ways of the Chinese.

And this is not a burden or a hard task. It is fascinating and an entry into a treasure trove of history and understandings of a deep civilization. The return of China to being a world-leading nation was what the 48 Group and my company, London Export Corporation, foresaw and promoted. We saw that China had been the largest economy in the world for 18 of the previous 20 centuries. So we have invested our time in understanding China and worked with it for the past 60 years.

The world’s difficulties in understanding China can be attributed to its not understanding China’s history and sense of itself. It is a reality now that China is a part of every country’s life, of most people’s lives and of most companies’ activities in one way or another.

So if you want to do business with China you need to take the time to understand its history, and its sense of itself, and a part of that is its etiquette. It is incumbent on China to do likewise with other histories, civilizations and ways, and other versions of etiquette.

It is a journey that is guaranteed to fascinate and bring pleasure.

(Stephen Perry, China Daily 02/03/2012 page13)

The author is president of the 48 Group Club, an independent business network promoting business relations between China and Britain. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.


There are times …


Golf Tournament Etiquette

Golf season is in full-swing, if you will, and it leads one to think of the important role etiquette plays in the game. Specifically, today we’re re-printing a set of etiquette guidelines by  Peter Post of the The Emily Post Institute for Golf Tournament Etiquette. The famed and revered British Open takes place this weekend and locally, Vancouver’s own Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club is hosting next week’s Canadian Open tournament. Whether fortunate enough to be on site or whether you’re an armchair viewer, keep watch for etiquette being adhered to or breached.

Five Guidelines for Watching a Golf Tournament

1. Don’t ask for autographs.

It’s okay to seek autographs before the players reach the practice area and after they’ve signed their scorecard and left the scorer’s area, but never in between.  Often there’s an area set aside for autograph signing.  If so, go there.

2. Don’t try to speak to the players.

The proximity of spectators have to players- another great thing about attending a golf tournament- can make it seem as if exchanging a few words would be okay.  It’s not.  While it’s acceptable to offer encouragement to the players such as “Keep it up, Phil!” or “Great birdie, Tiger!” avoid trying to engage them directly with comments like “Hey, Tiger, what club did you hit?” or “Hey, Vijay, my son goes to the same school as yours.”

3. Don’t offer advice to the players.

This is a special subcategory of the previous guideline.  The player knows better than you do- much, much better- exactly how to play a shot to fit his game.  Your suggestion is obnoxiously superfluous, to say the least.

4. Don’t touch a player’s ball, ever.

Players’ shots don’t always land “inside the ropes.”  Watch the ball, stay out of its way as it lands, and don’t think you’re being a help by moving it, kicking it, catching it, or stopping it.

5. Stand still when the players are hitting shots.

Something as seemingly innocuous as shifting your position for a better view can catch a player’s attention at just the wrong moment.  Players will tell you that one of the most annoying things spectators do at tournaments is laugh, talk, and move about when they’re trying to hit.  Whenever a player is addressing the ball, stand still and be quiet.

In Addition…

Watch your language.

Children do attend golf events.  And in the crowded confines of a large gallery, adults who might be offended by foul language won’t necessarily be able to “move away.”

Don’t make negative comments about the players.

It’s likely that among the spectators following any given golfer will be members of his family and some of his friends.  Be considerate of what impact your words might have on them before you let fly with a disparaging comment.

Cheer, don’t jeer.

Golf has a great tradition of complimenting golfers’ shots, and, as a rule, crowds at tournaments cheer loudly in appreciation of players’ efforts.  Recently, though, there have been sporadic instances of jeering from the gallery- especially at international events such as the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup matches.  Unfortunately, it’s showing it’s ugly face at some of the regular tour events as well.  Jeering has no place in the game.  Perpetrators can, should be, and have been removed for such behavior.

Dress appropriately.

Wear golf attire at a golf venue.

Don’t over-imbibe.

It appears as if the combination of spectating and alcohol is here to stay, since beer and liquor sales are now such an important revenue stream for professional sports.  Even though alcohol is served at a sports event, however, doesn’t mean that drunken behavior should be or is tolerated.  At golf tournaments, inebriated spectators will be asked to leave.

Be careful where you smoke.

I’m sure no player appreciates a puff of smoke wafting across him as he addresses his ball.  And even though they’re outdoors, some of your fellow spectators may also be very disturbed by your smoke.  If you have to have a cigarette, move away from the gallery and be aware of the wind direction.

Watch your shadow.

If it’s late afternoon, your shadow may be in a player’s line of sight or actually on him or his ball.  If you can’t move, it becomes more important than ever to stay perfectly still.

Don’t block other people’s views.

Often the gallery at a pro tournament can be large and deep.  Take care to give the people behind you a chance to see.  Be especially careful if you’re carrying a shade or rain umbrella.  There’s nothing more infuriating than the person with a large umbrella who blocks the view of people all around him.

Don’t touch that chair.

At the Masters, there’s a tradition that says a folding chair holds a place for the owner when the owner isn’t there.  Other spectators shouldn’t move that chair.  This tradition is now extending to other tournaments as well.  It makes sense: The person sitting in that chair may be in that position for several hours watching all the golfers go by, and it stands to reason that he’ll need a brief bathroom break or a chance to get something to eat from time to time.


Behaving at the Beach

The sun is shining and the heat waves are reverberating … time to hit the beach! And time for a refresher in Beach Etiquette …

  • Respect personal space and be sure to leave adequate space between your “camp” and your neighbours’.
  • Be conscious of the scenery and avoid blocking the view for others.
  • Avoid casting shadows onto sunbathers.
  • Be careful of kicking or spraying sand downwind onto your neighbour.
  • Keep voices and music at a respectful level – noise pollution is among the most irritating.
  • Dress appropriately. Naked is fine for a nudist beach but at family beaches, cover your bits adequately!
  • Keep tidy.  Windy conditions can be challenging but keep your papers and wrappers contained. Follow the rule of pack-in-pack-out. Go further and do a litter scout – help leave the beach cleaner than when you arrived.
  • Do not bring glass to the beach.
  • No smoking. This has become law at many beaches.
  • Use the provided facilities when “nature calls”.
  • Respect the beach and its ecosystem – admire and enjoy but leave creatures where they’re found.  Do not disrupt natural habitats.
  • Be aware of  how and where you play – keep your kite, your frisbee, your football, your small children, your splashing, away from others.
  • Be safe!

Classy Book!


Lindsay Lohan tweets to thousands about her ta-tas. Heidi Montag gets plastic surgery and CNN reports. It’s the age of poorly behaved, panty-flashing train wrecks. As a social chronicler for many New York publications, Derek Blasberg’s seen it all. “I’m shocked by how many supposedly sophisticated girls don’t know their water glass from their wine, or who believe menstrual cycles are appropriate cocktail conversation,” says the 27-year-old New York University grad from Missouri. Now Blasberg’s compiled everything he’s learned from Hollywood, fashion, and high society in Classy, a guide to becoming a true lady. “Modern society has put such an emphasis on inappropriate behavior that it seemed like the right time to remind young women how to behave,” Blasberg says.  We agree!

 Have fun reading about 21st century manners and let us know your thoughts!




Sweet Treatment For All?

Valentine’s Day is coming! And with it, a dilemma for some parents. A mom asked us recently : Do I have to give a valentine to every child in my son’s huge kindergarten class?

Our answer? Yes. In fact, this is probably the school’s policy, but even if it isn’t, it’s still the right thing to do. Explain to your child that it’s important to give valentines to all classmates so that no one feels left out. If he wishes to send cards or treats to a few select friends instead, he could mail them, deliver them personally, or even have a Valentine’s Day party after school.

Hope this helps, I’m off buying Valentine’s Day cards for my daughter’s 23 classmates!



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