The Business of Gifts
Everyone likes to get gifts, and business associates are no exception - but what gifts are appropriate?
By Terri Morrison
© Copyright 2004, All Rights Reserved
Gifts are given frequently and are important in the chain of
favor-and-obligation which is part of all Japanese relationships. Politeness
may require that the recipient first decline the gift; the giver may have to
offer it three times. Since gifts are never opened in the presence of the
giver, the presentation is of equal importance. Proper gift wrapping is vital.
Gadgets are popular gifts.
By and large, gift-giving is infrequent among businesspeople. However, when
invited to someone's home, you can bring something edible, especially to
informal gatherings. South Africa's various cultures have very different
traditions. In the Black and Colored (Asian and mixed-race) communities, do not
present a gift with the left hand - use the right hand or both hands. Gifts are
usually opened immediately.
U.S. businesspeople give out many promotional items, which are not
gift-wrapped. Formal gift-giving among U.S. executives is usually limited to
Christmas/Hannukah and commemorative events. Some U.S. executives who deal with
foreigners have learned to give gifts on other occasions. Gadgets are popular,
and gifts may display a corporate logo. Gifts are opened immediately.
Gift-giving habits vary among Switzerland's three major linguistic groups.
Quality and craftsmanship are appreciated, but gifts must not be mistaken for a
bribe. Small, tasteful gifts are preferred over the large and ostentatious.
Crafts or folk art from your home region are respected. Gifts are usually
Hospitality is important, but gift-giving is not universal among
businesspeople. Secretaries at Brazilian companies can be very helpful, and a
gift of a scarf or perfume is a good way to express appreciation. However,
gifts to members of the opposite sex can be misinterpreted; a man should say
"This is from my wife" when giving a gift to a woman. Be cautious
about gifts with a green-and-yellow color scheme, which represents the national
colors. Gifts should be stylish.
Reprinted from SwissAir in-flight magazine, Gazette