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Business Etiquettes in United Kingdom
 
 
 

General

The British have an interesting mix of communication styles encompassing both understatement and direct communication. Many older businesspeople or those from the 'upper class' rely heavily upon formal use of established protocol. Most British are masters of understatement and do not use effusive language. If anything, they have a marked tendency to use ‘qualifiers’ such as 'perhaps', ‘possibly’ or 'it could be'.
When communicating with people they see as equal to themselves in rank or class, the British are direct, but modest. If communicating with someone they know well, their style may be more informal, although they will still be reserved.

Written communication follows strict rules of protocol. How a letter is closed varies depending upon how well the writer knows the recipient. Written communication is always addressed using the person's title and their surname. First names are not generally used in written communication, unless you know the person well.
E-mail is now much more widespread, however the communication style remains more formal, at least initially, than in many other countries. Most British will not use slang or abbreviations and will think negatively if your communication appears overly familiar.

The British can be quite formal and sometimes prefer to work with people and companies they know or who are known to their associates. The younger generation however is very different; they do not need long-standing personal relationships before they do business with people and do not require an intermediary to make business introductions. Nonetheless, networking and relationship building are often key to long-term business success.

Most British look for long-term relationships with people they do business with and will be cautious if you appear to be going after a quick deal.

Greetings

• A firm handshake is the norm; there are no issues over gender in the UK.

• People shake upon meeting and leaving.

• Maintain eye contact during the greeting but avoid anything prolonged.

• Most people use the courtesy titles or Mr, Mrs or Miss and their surname.

• Wait until invited before moving to a first-name basis. People under the age of 35 may make this move more rapidly than older British.

• Business cards are exchanged at the initial introduction without formal ritual.

• The business card may be put away with only a cursory glance so don’t be offended if not much attention is paid to it.


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