Varying cultures & traditions across countries also applies to gift-giving, what may be considered appropriate in one country may be a cultural ‘faux pas’ in another. Within the interdependent, global and multi-cultural marketplace of the 21st century, cross-cultural differences in the approaches to and practices of business people across the world are important to learn. A good understanding of the gift-giving practices can only help you cultivate a worthwhile relationship with your business colleagues.
Listed below are certain examples highlighting the different gift-giving cultures across the world:
Gift-giving in Japan:
- Gift-giving and receiving are considered very important in Japanese culture and it is viewed as a mark of respect or appreciation.
- The gift need not be extravagant
- Be sure to gift senior colleagues better or more expensive gifts than their juniors
- The best time to give the gift is at the end of your stay
- Ensure that the gift is neatly wrapped but not in white or bright colours
- Do present individual gifts in private, in case you are giving a group gift then ensure that all the members are present before doing so.
- The correct etiquette would be to present the gift with both hands
- Gifts that are unique or reflecting the receiver’s interests are highly appreciated
Gift giving in China:
- It is the Chinese culture to refuse a gift, sometimes persistently. You must persist in offering the same for a while until it is accepted.
- You may present group gifts.
- Colours have varied sanctity in Chinese culture & this differs across regions. It is therefore advisable to get the gift wrapped at a local store. However, the colour ‘red’ is suitable as it is considered lucky
- Gifts given in pairs are considered lucky and are highly appreciated.
- Avoid very expensive gifts or items with company logos/name prominently displayed
- Eight is considered one of the luckiest numbers in Chinese culture. If you receive eight of any item, consider it a gesture of goodwill.
Gift giving in the United Kingdom & United States of America:
- The practice of gift-giving is rare in these cultures and is not expected.
- You may, however, present a small token of appreciation or gratitude and the end of a business deal or if you stay in a U.S. home for a few days. You may also write a thank-you note.
- The gift should be simple and tasteful. Small gifts such as a pen, diaries, books, flowers or a bottle of champagne would be considered appropriate. Gifts representative of your culture would also be a wonderful idea.
- In the USA, the gift may be immediately unwrapped and shown to all present.
You must bear in mind that the above listing is not exhaustive and is only meant to serve as an initial guidance. It would be advisable to do a bit more research before you choose a gift. Always remember that thoughtfulness in choosing a gift would be more appreciated than the cost or size of the gift!!