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Remember this at your next international business meeting: whistling indoor is to be avoided in Malaysia, while blowing your nose is a no-no in Japan. On the other hand, constant sniffing will drive your European business colleagues to distraction. Traditionally--minded Indians will be offended by smoking, and Germans will recoil if you chew gum. Posture is important in China: don't slouch. Think these are just schoolmarmish trivialities? Well, try waving at a Vietnamese director and see what happens. Or point at an Ethiopian manager with your left hand. Slap fist and open palm together for American emphasis and see how well it goes down in France. Or just try hugging that Taiwanese company president out of sheer enthusiasm, and you may find your carefully prepared business deal going horribly wrong.
It's all very well to have your facts, figures and spreadsheets, but woe betide the itinerant businessperson who isn't aware of the basic customs of the country he or she is visiting. While people are generally tolerant of the eccentric faux pas of foreigners, there are a few culturally sensitive behaviours that just can't be for given. The Vietnamese, for a start, only wave at dogs. Cause offence, and you might find it makes all the difference ill failing to build up local …