Punctuality should always be a priority. Be on time for all business-related meetings.
Remember that people in many countries write the day first, then the month, then the year (e.g. November 8, 2001, is written 8.11.01). This is usually the case in Canada.
Canada is officially bilingual. The federal government works in the two official languages – English and French.
Canadians who are primarily English-speaking are commonly referred to as “Anglophones.” Since many English-speaking Canadians are not of British descent, reserve the term “British Canadian” for immigrants to Canada from the U.K.
English speaking Canada uses British spelling rules rather than that of US English. Behavior, for instance, is spelled ‘Behavior’.
Francophones in French Speaking Canada (Quebec and parts of eastern Canada) usually are not as reserved as Anglophones (British Columbia and parts of western Canada). Moreover, they are often more likely to use expansive gestures, stand closer while talking and touch during a conversation.
In the province of Quebec, there are very stringent French-language requirements for all commercial endeavors. Ensure that you provide a French translation for promotional material and other documents.
Generally, it’s an asset to include both French and English translations on your business card.
Canada is a multicultural society, and the customs of businesspeople may reflect their ethnic background.
If you need to point, use the index finger. Pointing at other people, however, is often considered rude.
Canada is a very open society, exercising maximum social tolerance. Boasting and ostentation, however, tends to be frowned upon or at least regarded with some misgivings.
Although they are not overtly nationalistic “flag wavers”, Canadians usually hope that visitors will recognize and appreciate the many unique attributes that make their country distinct from the United States.
Welcome Topics of Conversation
- Positive comments about Canada and Canadians, both French speaking and English speaking.
- Sports are an excellent topic. Popular sports include hockey, football, baseball, basketball, golf, and tennis
- International Business. Canada has very diverse cultures and trade.
- The beautiful geography. Canada is an extraordinarily beautiful country with mountains, rivers, lakes and fabulous formal gardens. There is an old European style to the architecture, English on the west coast and French on the east coast.
- Travel of all sorts, especially international
- Shopping and fashion. Canada has excellent shopping in the larger cities, both on the east and west coasts. Many things can be purchased there that are not available in the US, especially in the larger cities.
- Cultural of all types. The coasts of Canada have remained true to the European appreciation of the Arts.
Conversation to Avoid
- Making comparisons that emphasizes any inferiority or similarity to the U.S.
- Quebec separatism or other possible conflicts between French and English Canada.
- Comparisons between the Canadian and US Health Care Systems or medical insurance.
- Any inferiority of the Canadian dollar in comparison to the US dollar.
- Religion in general, although Canada is very tolerant of most religions.
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