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"He's so cold and uncommunicative. He never shows any emotion."

"I wish she would get straight to the point instead of beating around the bush."

"Don't they know that it's rude to keep people waiting for half an hour?"

You often hear such remarks made by people around us. Actually, you may have already made some of them yourself.

Today, you don't even have to leave your own country to find yourself in face-to-face contact with people whose cultures are markedly different from yours. So, in order to succeed at the workplace today, it is important for you to develop effective intercultural communication skills.

Bring a cup of coffee, relax and say whether these statements are true or false. When not quite positive, employ your intuition.

Keep your eyes on your own computer screen, and remember that it's cheating to email other internet users during the quiz.

Follow the link at the bottom to see the answers.

Social or business situation




It is common to shake hands the first time you meet a Polish business partner.


When greeting people in the UK or the US you shouldn't use first names, but wait until they call you by your first name and then you can do the same.


German managers don't have a strong sense of authority.


In French business correspondence the language is very formal.


Americans usually put the shareholder first and are ready to sacrifice individuals in order to gain profit.


You shouldn't talk about business at a meal in China.


In Scandinavia people often work additional hours and willingly take work home.


The Japanese aren't fond of humour in seminars at all.


Older managers in Poland hold business qualifications rather than technical degrees.


In Brazil the personal side to business relationships needs to be emphasized.


People often nod their head for NO in Bulgaria.


When there is a queue in Russia, it is normal for a foreign businessperson to go to the front.


In negotiations the British are tough underneath polite and occasionally vague approach.


It is quite strange to go out to eat after 10 p.m. in Spain.


The Chinese say their surname before their first name.


In Italy, England and France market logic is employed in hiring new managers while in Germany nad Spain local managers with more technical training are preferred.


Talking with one's hands in his/her pockets is considered very impolite in Liechtenstein.


In Japan it is common to show concentration and attentiveness in public by closing the eyes and nodding the head up and down slightly. Nodding tends to mean "yes, we have understood you" rather than "yes, we welcome your proposal".


In East Asia group harmony, long-term relationships, loyalty and company reputation are the core corporate values.




Americans appear to be less exuberant than their Polish colleagues.


In Asian countries it is rude to look people in the eyes.


In Italy it is expected for businessmen to hug each other when being introduced.


When Arabs receive a gift, it is a custom to open it in front of the giver.


The French think that a good manager allows staff to work alone with little control.


In North America much business is done over the phone while in Poland there is preference for doing business face to face.


A traditional greeting in China is "Have you eaten?".


You are discouraged to use self-effacing humour during your public speaking engagement in Australia.


You shouldn't give a Russian six flowers because it's unlucky.


Corporate hospitality - for example, a night at the theatre - is more common than gift-giving in British business life.


Denmark is more male-dominated than Japan.


In north European and Anglo societies people see that conflicts in a company can be destructive and rather something to be avoided.


In Sweden managers are hardly ever women.


Mexicans have always been taught not to do business with anyone but friends.


In Germany people don't make a clear distinction between personal and business relationships.


In Saudi Arabia it is impolite to refuse a cup of coffee.


Most Americans believe that respect depends on family background.


In Spain a woman named Helena Lopez who married a man named Hector Portillo would be known as Helena Lopez de Portillo.


In China the least senior person generally enters the meeting room first.


Europeans from France, Belgium and Denmark enjoy jokes that involve making light of topics that make people feel anxious, such as death, illness and marriage.


In Ukraine all businesses are closed between 11:00 a.m. and noon for staff shopping escapades.


During presentations Japanese business executives don't expect separate handouts, prepared for different people, by job function.


When you visit someone's house in Poland you may be asked to take your shoes off.


British audiences don't like to participate as audience members and they especially do not want to have to react or respond at all during the first ten minutes of a presentation.


In France giving a gift with your company logo is seen as impersonal and in bad taste.


English managers base staff reductions on the performance-to-salary ratio while their German peers would favour discharging young managers who could find jobs more easily.


You may feel free to cross your legs in the Middle East.


In western Europe avoid giving your hostess red roses as they have romantic implications.


In Lithuania it is welcome to offer a one-year compulsory sabbatical for top management every five years with remuneration reduced by a half.


A Greek business lunch will tend to be a rather short attraction.


Arguments are always emotional and direct and there are sudden changes of viewpoint in business meetings in Poland.



In Germany you should use your boss's first name because it's polite.


When someone gives you a present in Japan, you should open it immediately.


American audience during a presentation expects jokes, modernity, logic, slogans, informality and a hard sell.


The numbers 6, 8 and 9 are considered lucky in China. Therefore, these three digits are firm favourites when choosing phone numbers, car registration numbers and room numbers.


In the Arab sphere people stand closer than in Europe: one metre or nearer.


It is considered professional to deviate from the meeting agenda in Switzerland.


People from The Republic of Ireland, the UK, Australia and New Zealand express a strong preference for jokes involving word plays.


In pre-negotiation socializing respect the Russians' need for initial formality.


French managers base promotion on seniority or group loyalty criteria.


If you hear whistles at your public speaking program in Poland, you better run because it is a signal of disapproval.


See the answers

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