United Kingdom Business Culture Do’s And Dont’s

Author: Michiel Schokking

Calm Heads Prevail | When thinking of the United Kingdom (UK), images of the Queen, glorious ancient castles and thousands of years of history and heritage come to mind. If asked to describe its people, you are likely to hear a wide selection of adjectives to describe its diverse culture of Scots, Irish and Welsh cohabitating – mostly peacefully– with their English brethren.

In addition, like many global economies, a growing number of immigrants have left their mark on the culture of the UK. Even though new cultural influences and traditions are being seen, the UK has still managed to maintain many of the characteristics the world has come to associate with the British such as formality, protocol, politeness, privacy and reserve. Characteristics and traits that remain evident even in its business culture.

Position, rank and protocol are still important and respected both socially and professionally. Politeness and courtesy mark all interaction and calm heads always prevail regardless of how heated a discussion may grow. Even American author Franklin P. Jones once acknowledged this resolute determination to avoid confrontation and chaos when he said, “The British have a remarkable talent for keeping calm, even when there is no crisis.”

Networking and relationships remain an important aspect of doing business among senior staff, as they often prefer to work with people and companies they know. Among the younger generation, this aspect of doing business is not as important. Established rules and business practices are followed. Punctuality is necessary, and respect is earned through experience rather than qualifications.

Teamwork is valued, but a strong feeling of individual accountability is expected, especially when an error is made. Colleagues needing assistance will often ask in a roundabout manner instead of explicitly asking for help. Meetings generally resemble sessions of debate where all come together to brainstorm potential solutions. Therefore, if you are hoping for a quick decision to result from a meeting, prepare to wait, as the process can often be slow and systematic.

Directness in communication will rarely draw the response you are looking for, as the British tend to favor diplomacy over bluntness and the possibility of offending. It may often appear as if they are being evasive when in fact they may simply be trying to find a way to say something potentially negative in a more positive manner. If you are in a meeting or having a conversation and are trying to “read between the lines”, pay close attention to facial expression and tone for important clues.

On a final note, the British are known for their sense of humour. Often self-depreciating and steeped in irony, the British will use humour to diffuse an otherwise tense situation, detesting confrontation. As the humour is typically directed at themselves, it is best not to take offense if in negotiations or a meeting and a joke is made. It is not meant to make light of an otherwise tense situation, but an attempt to restore calm and order to the situation.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/business-articles/united-kingdom-business-culture-do039s-and-dont039s-1922625.html

About the Author

The autor is the founder of TakingUpResidence (TUR) which offers concise and practical country information guides on a wide range of expat topics that can guide you through your move.