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International Business Protocol

By Dawn Bryan, best-selling author of “The Art and Etiquette of Gift Giving” and “Elite Etiquette”, and founder of Qualipedia ™

It is very easy to unwittingly offend your international business prospects. Many global marketing efforts and contract negotiations have been destroyed by the unintentional blunder.

Being too late or too early for an appointment, using the wrong form of address, improperly receiving a  business card, shaking hands, bringing wine to a home dinner, insulting with your choice of business gift, using a “hard sell”,  or even eating everything on your plate could ruin your negotiation…and reputation. Americans most often make mistakes with meeting/greeting rituals; eating/dining; giving/receiving;   and not recognizing significant taboos. And, when setting up or responding to a meeting request, remember that many Europeans and South Americans write the day first, then the month, then the year when using numbers.

Meeting/Greeting Rituals
Although handshakes are standard greeting gestures among Europeans, the gesture is generally more formal and more firm—except for the lighter touch of the French. Usually those of higher rank and women are expected to extend their hand first. Asians will often greet you with a gentle handshake; however, the bow is more traditional and more respected. Learning how to bow, including depth, eye contact, etc. is very important. Some South Americans can be effusive and take a long time to greet, believing that this conveys respect for the other person.  In many cultures, it is good manners to shake hands with everyone in a group/room upon arrival as well as departure.  Many European and South American women kiss each other on alternating cheeks. In Brazil, a third kiss between women bestows “good luck” in finding a spouse!

Be sure to use the proper form of address when meeting—or greeting: there are many different customs. For example, Europeans rarely use first names until they know the person well; unlike the United States, titles, especially academic titles, are always used.  Asian names are usually listed in a different order from Western names. In Japan, use last names plus San meaning “Ms.” or “Mr.” The Chinese are very sensitive regarding status and always use official titles, such as “Committee Member”. Titles are also important in some Central/South American countries: in Panama the title Licenciado is used for anyone with a bachelor’s degree. In Norway, lawyers and clergymen do not use titles, although government officials do.

Learn the business card protocol for each culture. Your card should have the other person’s language printed on the back and that side should be presented to her/him. The presentation itself is important, particularly in Asian cultures where it is given with a proper bow. Do not just quickly stuff someone’s card into your pocket or bag. Always treat another’s card with respect, taking the time to read and appreciate it. When you meet with several people, be sure to give your card to each person lest you slight someone.

Eating/Dining
Whether you are a host or a guest, you should be familiar with the local food, drink, punctuality expectations (local time), when and how to conduct business, and appropriate seating. In some cultures, guests are expected to arrive late—don’t be offended at your Spanish associate’s late arrival. In others (Japan, The Netherlands, Sweden), tardiness is considered very rude. In Italy, the more important the person, the later he/she may arrive to a business meeting. Europeans are generally not fond of business breakfasts.

Learn when and how to correctly order and eat difficult or new foods. If possible, practice eating in the style of the other person—European, American, chopsticks.

Giving/Receiving
In some countries, such as Norway, gift-giving is simply not a part of doing business, whereas in many other cultures (Japan) it is an integral part of the process of learning about the other person. In China a banquet is an acceptable business gift.

Some business gifts are not presented until negotiations have been completed (Latin America), others at the beginning (Korea).Some countries (Australia) have very strict quarantine laws regarding even wood products and many foods.

To avoid looking cheap, do not give logo gifts unless they are of excellent quality and the logo is subtle.

If bringing flowers to someone’s home, be certain that the color, number, or actual type of flower is not offensive: in many countries certain flowers and colors signify death.

Taboos
Do not be impatient when dealing with cultures such as Saudi and Russia. Russians prize patience as a virtue and some regard compromise as a sign of weakness.

It is usually inappropriate for a foreign business woman to invite her male counterpart to a business dinner unless other associates or spouses attend.

Do not dress casually for a business meeting, and, if a woman, probably best to wear a skirt.

Never say “no” to the Japanese and understand their aversion to the word. (This maintains harmony and saves face.)

Arab World – Do not give or present anything with your left hand; give an alcoholic beverage or bar gift; or show the sole of your shoe.

If you would like to hear more about international business protocol, please tune in to Success Express at Big Blend Radio and my recent interview:  http://www.bigblendradio.com/April-18-2014.html

CHOOSING CHOCOLATE

Called “food of the gods” by the Aztecs, the best quality chocolate is made of the highest quality beans and ingredients, with no fillers, waxes or additives. It can be expensive, but one taste will prove its worth to you.

Choose, according to taste:

  • Dark Chocolate can contain from 62 to 85 percent cocoa paste (pure pulverized cocoa beans). Chocolate labeled “bittersweet” contains about 35 % and “semi-sweet” about 15%. Bittersweet and semi-sweet are often used interchangeably in cooking. The term “dark chocolate” describes any sweetened chocolate that does not contain mild solids.
  • Milk Chocolate contains either condensed or dry milk as well as 30–40 percent cocoa. Typically much sweeter than dark chocolate, less than 30 percent cocoa may mean that the chocolate is too sweet.
  • White Chocolate contains a blend of milk, cocoa butter (fat), sugar and sometimes flavorings like vanilla. It contains no cocoa solids and does not taste like chocolate, as it gets its name from the cocoa butter it contains. Beware: the cheaper varieties will have most or all of the cocoa butter replaced by vegetable fats.

How do you recognize good chocolate?

As with most good things, the more senses that your chocolate appeals to, the better…

By Appearance: Smooth texture, evenly colored; no air pockets or cracks, surface should not be dull or have streaks or dots (chocolate bloom or fat bloom). This occurs when chocolate has been stored in too humid or too warm temperatures.

By Aroma: Sweetly fragrant while being unwrapped; Lack of smell may indicate a lack of flavor. You may detect also vanilla, berry, caramel or roasted nuts. Burnt, musty, or chemical smalls are not acceptable.

By Touch: Should feel silky, not sticky; As it is the only food that melts at body heat, it should just begin to yield to the warmth of your finger; it should snap cleanly, not crumble.

By Mouth Feel and Texture: Most of our taste buds are on the front of the tongue, so the taste explosion should begin immediately;  It should be smooth and buttery, gently dissolving into a creamy liquid; If waxy, it may indicate that the cocoa butter has been replaced with vegetable fat;  Should not feel grainy or gluey.

By Flavor: Quality chocolate will be bittersweet, fruity and spicy with a good balance of acidity. The flavor should linger for several minutes with a clean aftertaste. It should not be overpoweringly sweet

How Do I Store Chocolate?

All chocolate should be well wrapped and stored in a cool (60-70degrees F.) dry place with good air circulation and odor-free environment. Keep away from direct heat and sunlight. White and milk chocolate can only be stored for about 10 months because of the milk solids they contain. Never store chocolate in plastic wrap–it gives the chocolate an unpleasant taste.  It should always be consumed at room temperature.

Podcast: Cracking the Code on Elite Etiquette – Jennings Wire

Please enjoy a recent podcast interview with Dawn Bryan and Annie Jennings of Jennings Wire on proper etiquette.

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Highlights from the conversation include:

  • How would you define “etiquette” for the 21st Century? What is Elite Etiquette?
  • What are some of the unspoken, unwritten rules, customs and traditions? When do they apply?
  • What if you make an embarrassing protocol mistake in your business communications?
  • In new experiences, what do most people worry about doing wrong?
  • Why do some businesses ask to have a MEAL with a job candidate before making an offer?
  • What does the gift you give say about you? How is it a reflection of who you are as a person?
  • Why is it important in this rapidly changing, social media world to learn about etiquette and protocol?

Listen to the full podcast HERE

Full article HERE

 

New Book, Elite Etiquette, Cracks The Culture Codes

Renowned cultural coach Dawn Bryan publishes book revealing informative protocols for strengthening business and social relationships

 New York – January, 2015  - Quality expert and best-selling author, Dawn Bryan goes beyond the traditional rules of “etiquette” to explain the often unvoiced, assumed customs and terminologies that are a sign of belonging and a way of expressing respect within a culture. The first book of its kind, this comprehensive guide provides the reader with the social behaviors needed to communicate within various lifestyles.

Going to a formal banquet, a golf tournament, a wine tasting, the opera, or an unfamiliar religious ceremony or celebration? Have you been asked to make a toast, host a business luncheon, join an aficionado for cigar smoking, meet at a sushi bar, or attend an art auction? Are you traveling for the first time on a yacht, private plane or helicopter? Or do you just need to know how to open a champagne bottle or the correct way to eat lobster, artichoke, soup, escargot, pomegranate, bone marrow or spaghetti?

Categorically and concisely, Elite Etiquette explains everything you: Need to Know; May Want to Know; May Find Helpful to Know; and Must Not Do. With wisdom and wit, the author gives you the information you need to feel comfortable wherever you are. The book is ideal for hosts, guests, and spectators seeking advice for the appropriate conduct, dress, courtesies and guidelines, which will expedite almost any business or social situation.

Elite Etiquette is available now: Paperback: http://amzn.to/17lyvGd, Kindle: http://amzn.to/10lLfZ3

Related Links: Dawn Bryan on E! Entertainment: http://youtu.be/9ezTf–iQo8
About Dawn Bryan         

An authority on quality, protocol, gift giving, and conscious choice, and founder of The Qualipedia.com. Dawn Bryan has taught cultural competence to global businesses, foreign service diplomats at the University of Shanghai and MIT business school students. She has coached a broad range of people from financial services executives, airline industry CEOs, executive staffs of legendary music moguls and rap artists. Her impressive career includes being selected spokesperson/consultant on international protocol and gift giving for many luxury brands, including Neiman Marcus, Hammacher Schlemmer, American Express, Diners Club, and Waterford Wedgwood. She is author of the best-selling book, The Art & Etiquette of Gift Giving (Bantam Books), and has written many articles and columns on quality, gift giving, and protocol. These have appeared in Business Week, Vogue, Town & Country, as well as bride, business and travel magazines. She has won numerous awards, including The Ellis Island Medal of Honor (2006) and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS, for her pioneering and extensive work with the cause.

Learn more at TheQualipedia.com

WHICH CHRISTMAS TREE IS RIGHT FOR YOU? Tips to Help Shoppers Select the Perfect Tree for Their Lifestyle

 

Since President Franklin Pierce had the first White House Christmas Tree in the 1850’s American families have faced the task of choosing a tree that fits their lifestyle, demonstrates their passion for Christmas and is practical and economical.

 Everyone has an opinion about the family Christmas tree–must it be live, cut or artificial? And what size–is bigger always better?

What about the shape, the color, the needle length, the branch strength and spacing, the needle-holding ability–and even the fragrance? We can always cut our own trees, but most of us purchase them from the nearest local seller.

Dawn Bryan, author of the best-selling “The Art and Etiquette of Gift Giving,” and founder of Qualipedia (www.thequalipedia.com), a consumer information and lifestyle website, offers the following tips to help shoppers choose the tree that is right for them.

Before making any decision, keep in mind where your tree will be displayed and know the measurements of the area before you purchase.

Trying to balance our love of tradition with practicality and current lifestyle, we can easily make the wrong decision. Ask yourself:

Are you the traditionalist who loves to make the season come alive while stringing lights and breathing in the fresh fragrance of your pine?  Do you not have the space to store an artificial tree during the year? 

If so, select a cut tree with good green color, needle resiliency, and pleasing fragrance.

How to Select a Live or Cut Tree:

  • Check condition of the needles by bending the needle gently between your thumb and forefinger. The fresh needle should bend easily, not break
  • Pull your hand toward you along the branch. Needles should adhere to the branch and not fall off in your hand.
  • If a cut tree, lift the tree a few inches off the ground, then drop it on stump end. If outside needles fall off in abundance, it is probably not fresh. If old needles, which have been lodged among the branches from prior shedding fallout, this is not a sign of a dry tree. 

How to Care For:

  • Living Trees: Store before decorating in unheated, sheltered area out of sun and wind; While inside, keep soil damp; limit inside stay to 7 to 10 days; when moving to the outdoors, do not immediately change temperatures from warm house to freezing cold; when planting, mulch heavily over the top of the planted root ball to prevent freezing and water only when needed.

 

  • Cut Trees: Cut a half-inch off the base of the trunk before immediately placing it into water; do not whittle down the sides of the trunk, as the tree drinks mostly from the edges of its trunk base; trees may drink as much as a gallon of water in the first 24 hours and one or more quarts a day thereafter; keep tree away from sun, fireplace and other heat sources; and unplug lights at night unless you are expecting Santa. To recycle, check the recycling link on your community’s website.
  • Real Christmas trees are a renewable, recyclable resource, often grown on soil that doesn’t support other crops.

Are you time-compromised, afraid to climb ladders, not interested in needle clean-up and tree maintenance, or evergreen allergic? 

If so, select an artificial tree that imitates your favorite variety or is in your favorite color. Many are pre-lit and some come with ornaments, berries, pine cones, flocking, frosting and fiber optics already in place.

How to Select an Artificial Tree:

  • If you are looking for the most realistic looking artificial tree, purchase one with PE needles (rather than PVC), a center pole, and individual stick branch attachments.
  • If your primary concern is buying tree that is easy to assemble, choose one with PE needles, a center pole, hinged branch attachments and pre-strung lights.
  • Artificial trees come in a myriad of varieties, heights and shapes to fit into your space and decorating style. 
  • “Tip count” can be used as an advertising ploy, and usually makes little difference to the overall appearance, mattering much less than needle quality.
  • For quality, look at the branch ends: well-crafted trees use heavier gauge metal and have sculpted, not snipped-off, ends.
  • Lights: Look for three-year or 3,000 hour warranty,  80-100 lights per square foot,  twist-proof sockets, the ability for the entire string to stay lit, even if a single bulb burns out, is broken or removed; and have 8-10 inches between lights.

How to Care For an Artificial Tree:

  • With proper care, an artificial tree will last 6-7 years, making it an economical choice.
  • Wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt when putting up your tree.
  • Store the tree in a carrying case, NOT a cardboard box. The latter will get damp and/or disintegrate and cause dust to inundate your tree, and critters like to chew through boxes to makes warm homes in artificial trees.
  • Concerns:
  • Artificial trees off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOCs,) as they are made of PVC and/or PE and many contain lead, which makes the PVC more malleable. These trees are known to shed lead-laced dust.
  • Artificial trees often are treated with a fire retardant which off-gasses.
  • Artificial trees cannot be recycled. It is possible to donate a gently used tree to a local thrift store. If the tree is unfit for use, it must be taken to a landfill.

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Chestnuts: A Sweet And Healthy Holiday Treat

Yes, Virginia, there really is a sweet and healthy holiday treat – the versatile chestnut! An ancient diet food consisting of 50 percent water, less than one percent fat, cholesterol and gluten free, and rich in vitamins C and E, chestnuts are closer to the brown rice family than any other nut or vegetable.For centuries a popular and inexpensive food that fed many, the chestnut has now become more of a seasonal delicacy with the demand outstripping supply. Since the American Chestnut blight killed over 3.5 billion trees over a 50 year period beginning in 1904, the American Chestnut is making a slow comeback with innovative breeding programs. Most chestnuts grown in the U.S. are hybrids of European and Asian species.

Where Can I Find Them?

Chestnuts, unlike other nuts, are very perishable. More like fruit than nuts, they begin to lose their high water content and dry out within a few hours after being picked. Purchasing pre-cooked/pre-peeled nuts simplifies the preparation process.

• Internet/Mail Order: Numerous American farms – many family-owned – and plantations now breed and produce wonderful hybrid chestnuts in several sizes. They ship crops as soon as picked, so get your holiday order in as soon as possible.

• Local: Fresh from local growers or at your grocery, health food, gourmet and specialty stores.

• Imports: Some imported chestnuts are often imported under poorly controlled conditions, but good fresh ones can be found in season in groceries, health food stores, and in gourmet and specialty shops. Canned and jarred varieties may be more tender – and certainly easier to prepare – but they do not compare to the fresh ones.

• Street Vendors: Roasted, especially in large cities where they are often cooked with sand in large woks. The wonderful aroma is very seductive, but the taste is frequently disappointing because these are often hanging out on heavily-trafficked street corners, thus the nuts can absorb gas fumes.

How Do I Select Them?

• Look for rich brown shell. The tan-colored end should be free of mold, the nut should be firm when grasped. If shell moves when you squeeze, it has already started to dry out. Test nuts by putting them into water; the fresh ones should sink. Inside meat should be cream colored/yellow, not dark. Discard nut meats with blue-streaking, black spots or a vinegary smell. If you find grocery store nuts under misters, they may be of poor quality, as they should not be stored in overly moist conditions.

• Packaged: Shelled chestnuts can be purchased jarred, canned, dried, frozen, or vacuum packed in a variety of forms, such as boiled, steamed, roasted, whole in syrup, candied/crystallized. Packaged chestnuts are usually of good quality, having been prepared when fresh.

• Famous luxury item, the French marron glace (candied chestnut) is prepared with a complicated process, which includes 16 different steps.

• Other forms: Chestnuts are made into flour, liquor/beer and the honey produced by bees residing in chestnut groves.

How Do I Store Them?

Fresh nuts should be stored in the refrigerator and used as soon as possible. Steam peeled, flash frozen nuts should be used soon after thawing because the fumigation required during the importation process kills the seed embryo, causing the nut to deteriorate much more quickly.

• Refrigerator: Placed in-shell chestnuts with a damp towel in a ventilated bag in the crisper of your refrigerator, the nuts will keep for a couple of weeks. To keep them for one or two months, store at a cooler temperature.

• Freezer: Cooked chestnuts can be frozen for about a year. Blanch, peel and vacuum pack them whole or prepare by chopping or pureeing first.

Chestnut Tips

• Whatever your method of cooking fresh chestnuts, to prevent the nut from exploding, cut a large “X” on the flat side of the nut with a chestnut knife or a small serrated knife, making sure to cut all the way through the shell – or cut off the tips of the shells.

• Chestnuts rival beans in their ability to produce flatulence (ahem, gas).

• Dried chestnuts are sweeter and less floury in texture than fresh, roasted nuts, albeit not as flavorful.

• Use of a chestnut knife and chestnut roasting pan will greatly expedite your peeling and roasting.

• December is the prime month for fresh chestnuts

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