Doing business in Great Britain

Great Britain consists of England, Scotland and Wales, while Northern Ireland is only part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Despite distinctive cultural differences with regards to the mentality of its inhabitants, one can speak of a shared British business culture.

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The refined “English manner” is famous around the world and synonymous primarily with respectful and reserved behaviour. Included in this is an unlimited politeness in every situation. 

Emotional outbursts of any kind are deemed embarrassing and compromising. Everyone who has received a reasonably good education knows how to retain his composure.

Small talk

British culture also demands the creation of a pleasant atmosphere at all times. Thus, the British are masters of small talk. Their skill at having an animated conversation even about something very trivial is particularly remarkable. 

Since no business meeting can pass without having non-committal conversations, foreign business partners should definitely practise a little small talk. The aim is to establish a good overall mood, agreement and a personal relationship, before you get on to more challenging business topics. 

Listen carefully

It is also crucial for foreign business partners to listen carefully. Britons show only limited reactions if they don’t agree with something and will not further explain their rejection. 

They will, on the one hand, directly express their views with regards to a suggestion that has been made, but on the other hand, they will do so in a rather calm and subtle manner. Before they agree to an offer, the British tend to take a lot of time to weigh all of the presented arguments. 

Understating instead of proving yourself

Another art that the British master very well is confident understatement: No one emphasises his position or professional know-how. Britons don’t demonstrate the effort that was necessary to achieve results. The motto is: you either are truly great or you are not. 

In day-to-day business, you thus have to be able to listen carefully: if an Englishman, for example, knows something better than his colleagues or business partners, he will in all modesty only subtly make a few remarks regarding his doubts during a discussion. No more.

So be culturally smart when travelling to Great Britain and get it right! A longterm business relationship with humerous, witty business partners will be your greatest reward!

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Our intercultural business videos focus on what really matters when entering a specific international business situation. Within minutes you can easily prepare for diverse international business situations. 

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In our eLearning course Intercultural Awareness you will reflect on your own culture and get a better understanding of what distinguishes your behaviour patterns from business cultures in other countries. Then work on your own goals and challenges in international business by following a short learning path.

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