Must Know Etiquette For Business Interpreters In 5 Countries

Knowing how to navigate international business culture is as important as speaking the language, and can be the difference between deal or no deal for a company!

For any business interpreter it’s just as important to know the rules and norms of foreign business meetings as it is to know the native tongue, and business cultures vary greatly across the world. In these 5 big business areas a deal pushed too soon, or greeting the wrong person first could spell disaster for any potential partnerships!

Etiquette for Business Interpreters in the USA

USA – In American business, the expression “time is money” is spot on. Punctuality and agendas are important, and negotiations are often conservative and formal in nature. There is less small talk and more discussion of the proposition on the table. Handshakes are common, discussion succinct, and there is often a lot of paperwork.

Etiquette for Business Interpreters in ItalyItaly – The Italian business style is much more focused on curating a personal relationship rather than getting right to business. Personal conversation helps build rapport and trust, and if you move too quickly with a deal it can be viewed as untrustworthy. Written contracts and punctuality aren’t as important, and meetings will often run over.

Spain – Similar to Italy, the focus is more on creating strong relationships rather than the business deal itself. It’s not uncommon to discuss background or other personal information. Deals are not generally made over meals as they are in the U.S, as this is seen more as a time of relaxation.

China – The Chinese style of business is much more conservative. Punctuality is stressed and ranking and seniority is extremely important. It is polite to address the person with the highest title first. Business cards are important and handed with both hands. Often business deals are celebrated with banquets, and gifts are common. They should be small and of cultural significance.

Etiquette for Business Interpreters in Brazil

Brazil – Personal relationships are, again, key to establishing business. There is a respect for seniority within a company and face-to-face meetings are preferable in order to effectively get to know the individual business is being done with. There is also an emphasis on saving face, and confrontations and criticism are seen as impolite.


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