Thursday, September 1, 2011

Etiquette is...subtle

Today's blog post comes from Cindy:

I arrived completely obsessive, compulsive, organized, and fully American! Those are almost always great attributes.

“I’m Cindy Haygood, here to pick up my car,” I said, presenting my paperwork. “This is the rental agreement and the receipt.”

It sounded organized and professional, and I’ve gotten to the gist of the transaction right away. All OK - except for a few subtle details. I was not in America, and I was talking to the top of a head! The person behind the desk was still sitting down.

I’m a quick study. I took a step backward, breathed in the island breeze, looked around at the beautiful water and gorgeous flowers and said, “Good morning to you. I hope you are well today.”

The head came up, but no smile. “Good day to you,” he said. “Now, how is it I can help you?”

It took me a full five minutes, but I did manage to get a smile from the man — something usually accomplished within moments, but I was out of my civil clime. As the customer, I presented myself completely with my own viewpoint in mind. My ego was so overcharged that I could not pick up all the signals around me. I based my communication solely on my own thoughts and instincts.

A few short months later, I repeated the scene, but this time I started with, “Good morning, a beautiful day today. I see the bougainvillea is in full bloom...”

Before you travel, be aware of the cultural nuances that influence any interaction, including introductions. With a little research, you can make a better first impression. We will talk about different introductions in other countries in upcoming blog posts!

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