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Nancy R. Mitchell gives us some protocol and etiquette advice on gift giving, such as some of the taboos of international ...
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What are some of the taboos of international gift giving? Nancy Mitchell: The biggest mistake that you can make when you are selecting a gift for an international client or visitor is to ignore some of the customs, courtesies, history, symbolism of that person’s country. There are resources for you to check, to find out what is appropriate in specific countries. Do not assume that things that are important to you or that we value here in the North American business environment are going to go over as well in some other country. For instance if you gave a bouquet of white flowers to a Chinese visitor, that is going to fall flat, white flowers signify death. If you gave your Chinese client a clock it signifies the end of life, if you gave them a knife or scissors or even a letter opener, it signifies that you are severing a relationship. Also steer clear of products that your client has in abundance in his or her country in Mexico, you would not give someone from Mexico a gift made out of silver, it is something that is so abundant in Mexico, that it is not the same, does not have the same value rather as it does in our country. Colors, numbers, certain countries you must give gifts in odd numbers, certain countries you must give things in even numbers. It is so important for you to do your research so that what you think is an appropriate gift, you have chosen it innocently, sincerely and on the other side, the recipient side it is a destruction because you have gone against something that is important to them or is a custom, a culture or symbol that they value.