In today’s inter-reliant, international and culturally diverse corporate world, cross-cultural differences can have an impact on business success. By understanding the appropriate eating habits of different countries, you can emulate the conduct of your hosts while dining to make a lasting impression. Here are a few tips on cross-cultural dining etiquette:
Body language: In most cultures it is considered offensive to rest your elbows on the table. Do not begin eating until the host does.
Eating: When in Japan and China, learn to use chopsticks. In places like Germany, table manners are continental – fork in left hand and knife in right. But in America, the fork is switched to the right hand also. When in the Middle East, ensure that you eat with the right hand only.
End of meal: The German style of indicating that you’ve finished your meal is by laying the fork and knife parallel across the right hand side of the plate. But when in the Middle East, if you are finished, leave food on your plate; otherwise it will be filled immediately.
Do not turn a wine glass upside down to decline wine. Instead, you can put your hand over the wine glass to indicate that you do not want wine.