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Blog February 25, 2016 by St Giles

ESL Etiquette: The Importance of English Language Skills

business people meeting

This blog segment discusses both the importance of business communication etiquette and some of the examples of language related differences in different parts of the world.

The Importance of Business Language Skills

Clarity and strong communication skills are essential for conducting successful business. Business language skills can improve team collaboration, partner relationships, productivity, innovation, and customer satisfaction.

ESL Business Etiquette

Knowing and understanding communication etiquette is also important, and will vary from one country to another. It’s interesting that some of the same English words and gestures can vary greatly depending on the country. Here are some examples of business communications etiquette in several parts of the world.

  • Great Britain: In business discussions, opening the conversation with a neutral topic is best. A popular neutral topic is the weather. Speaking loudly or interrupting is considered unattractive and disrespectful. The Queen’s English is used, which differs in spelling, formality and meaning in comparison to other English speaking countries.
  • Hong Kong: The Chinese converse in very close proximity, as a result of the size of their population. Silence is respected and valued- there is no need to fill in gaps in the conversation if your host is in contemplation. Titles are important; always use them with names in business.
  • Saudi Arabia: The word ‘yes’ frequently means ‘maybe’. If your host leaves suddenly for 20 minutes, this most likely part of their daily prayer rituals, which occur five times daily and are extremely sacred. Their absence is not to be interpreted as disrespectful.
  • United States: The word ‘yes’ means ‘yes’. Business introductions should include a title prior to a person’s name (such as Ms, Mr and Mrs).
  • Canada: Firm handshakes with eye contact are important in any business transaction. However, men will typically wait for women to extend their hands for a handshake. Refrain from making large sweeping arm gestures.
  • Japan: In Japanese business interactions (as well as in everyday conversations) the word ‘no’ is avoided. Therefore, a ‘yes’ can mean ‘no’. Japanese naturally use weaker handshakes (this is not to be interpreted as rude), but the standard greeting is the bow.

St Giles offers a variety of English language courses for business professionals and executives who seek to improve their language ability in a short period of time. This includes group courses, one-to-one courses, and flexible training (designed for busy professionals). For more information, contact St Giles today.