If invited by a British guest, you may follow the standard practice of carrying flowers, wine, and/or good chocolates for the host. Don’t get offended in case the host just adds the wine to his cellar; the idea is not to suggest that your gift is not appreciated but just that the person has no inclination to guzzle it during that meal. Champagne is always welcome.
There are many such nuances of the British behavior one needs to grasp so as to give and receive gifts etiquettes in the UK. The British essentially are very private and reserved people. For them, privacy is very important, and they expect others to respect it. They like to maintain a distance and don’t like to open up as much, at least to begin with.
There’s a proper way of presenting yourself in most situations. The British people strictly adhere to protocol. They do not make use of effusive language, and show a marked tendency to employ ‘qualifiers’ like ‘possibly’, ‘it could be’ or ‘perhaps’. They are restrained in their hand gestures and overall body language.
It’s important to keep in mind the fact that the British can get quite formal; they prefer to work with individuals and firms they know well personally or through their associates. In this regard, the younger generation is much more open, and looks beyond long-standing personal relationships for doing business.
Nonetheless, relationship building and networking often hold key to long-term business success. It takes longer to build relationships or friendships with the British business associates. However, once they are formed, the bonds tend to be deep. In fact, most Britons look for forming long-term relationships, while doing business. They will tend to go into their shell and become cautious if it appears to them that you are running after a quick deal.
Gifts can be a way of increasing familiarity and building bonds, but as explained above, one should be careful in following the gift giving norms or else your purpose won’t be served.
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