Posts tagged with conversation guidelines for south korea

New Article! Cultural Clues & Communication Guidelines for SOUTH KOREA

Posted on September 10, 2016 by Leave a comment

The Latest! Cultural Clues, Do’s and Taboos for SOUTH KOREA – A Series of Cultural Tips for Countries from A to ZSouth Korea

It’s easy for business travelers to think that even when they travel, business is going to be done pretty much the same way it is at home. But that’s not always the case. Cultural differences can have a big impact on a social and business relationship. That’s why it’s important for business travelers to make sure they understand the culture of the country that they’re taking a business trip to.

The interview on cultural travel tips for South Korea is a brief snapshot of conversation guidelines for South Korea, tips for communicating in South Korea, and strategies for doing business with South Korea to help with understanding the culture in South Korea. It’s important to keep in mind that as we homogenize as a ‘global culture’, cultural tendencies change and evolve as well. Awareness is the first step when it comes to cultural do’s and taboos for South Korea and tips for intercultural communication!

Cultural Tips for South Korea – including some valuable business travel tips for South Korea!

When doing business in South Korea, tone down hand motions and facial expressions when talking or laughing because being too animated or demonstrative is frowned upon.

Keep your voice tone moderate since they generally speak in a soft voice.

Third party introductions are usually preferred, so wait to be introduced to another at gatherings and parties.

South Korean men greet each other with a slight bow, and sometimes an accompanying handshake, while maintaining eye contact. Respect may be added by supporting your right forearm with your left hand during the handshake.

Bow at the beginning and end of a meeting. An exit bow that is longer than the greeting bow is a sign that the meeting went well.

The junior person will initiate the greetings and be the first to bow. The senior person will be the first to offer his hand. A gentle handshake or nod of the head may also be sufficient in business so follow their lead.

While this is slowly changing, women in the South Korean business culture often don’t shake hands. Western men should not try to shake hands with a Korean woman; Western women will usually need to initiate a handshake with Korean men.

Elderly people are highly respected, so it is good manners to greet and speak to them first and spend a few minutes with them. Complimenting an elder’s good health is always appreciated.

Gift-giving is often practiced in a business setting. Good gifts for a first trip include office items with your company logo or something that is commemorative of your home region. Your gift should be of good quality but modestly priced. Use both of your hands when giving or receiving a gift. Gifts are not opened in the presence of the giver.

South Koreans may be asked personal questions regarding your age, salary, education, religion, and family life because they think that they can establish rapport by finding common denominators. These questions may also be asked to determine your status–which means everything in South Korean business culture.

Since you will be judged according to your status, your title should be emphasized on your business card. This gives the recipient an idea of your job responsibility and assists him or her in determining the amount of decision-making authority you have.

In this culture, it is considered important to keep business cards in immaculate condition. Investing in a business card case will allow your cards to stay well preserved. Writing on a business card is perceived as a sign of disrespect.

Present your business card with two hands or, at their lead, with your right hand. When you receive another person’s card, carefully examine it and then make a positive remark before putting it in your card case or on a nearby table. Accepting a business card and then immediately stuffing it into your back pocket will be perceived as disrespectful.

Modesty is very important in South Korea. When you are paid a compliment during a conversation, respond by saying that you are not worthy of such praise. It’s best not to acknowledge a compliment by saying “thank you” or you affirm it. However, this should not stop you from complimenting another person, since compliments are still very much appreciated.

South Koreans have an intense pride in their country and a rich sense of its history. Consequently, it is important that you make every effort not to confuse the history and culture with other Asian countries, especially Japan. It’s also best not to bring gifts from Japan or talk about your contacts or travels there.

South Koreans avoid saying, “No”, directly, so answer questions affirmatively in a positive way, even when you have to deliver negative information.

Many forms of physical contact are considered disrespectful. Gestures such as touching someone on the back or on the person’s arm are discouraged. Physical contact is inappropriate with older people, people of the opposite sex, or people who are not good friends or family. However, one exception is that people of the same sex will often hold hands.

Be aware that personal relationships generally take precedence over business. The first meeting should be solely for the purpose of getting to know your counterpart and establishing rapport.

Expect tea to be served at the beginning of the meeting, and make a point of accepting this offering of hospitality. Keep a formal demeanor as long as your counterpart does.

While South Koreans are very formal in personal situations, this is not the case when they are standing in line in public places where pushing and shoving are commonplace.

Like anyone else South Koreans laugh when something is funny however, smiling is also used to mask embarrassment and other feelings of distress. Criticism of any kind should be done in private to avoid “loss of face”.

5 Key Conversation Topics or Gesture Tips

Eye contact is very important to indicate your sincerity and attentiveness to the speaker

Talk about South Korea’s economic success and international accomplishments

Compliment and ask questions about South Korea’s cultural heritage, landmarks, art, and customs

South Koreans are avid sports enthusiasts — especially when it comes to the Olympics!

Discuss your personal hobbies – they love kite and kite flying!

5 Key Conversation Topics or Gesture Taboos

Don’t discuss South Korean or North Korean politics, Socialism, Communism, and the Korean War

Blowing your nose in public is considered vulgar. If heavily spiced food makes your nose run, get up and move away from the table before blowing your nose.

Beckoning a person by moving a single finger toward you is considered very rude. Beckon someone by extending your arm palm down and moving your fingers up and down.

Cover your mouth when yawning or using a toothpick.

Feet are perceived as dirty and should not touch other people or objects. Men should take care that the soles of their shoes are pointing down. Women are permitted to cross their legs as long as the sole of the shoes don’t point at anyone.

Bon Voyage!

Join us in the future for Do’s and Taboos for SPAIN!

To learn more about the Dos and Taboos for different cultures, and the communication styles of Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East – order Gayle Cotton’s bestselling book SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication’ available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book

Create Rapport and Organize Strategies for Success

The CROSS of Cross-Cultural

Emmy Award Winner, Gayle Cotton, is the author of this blog and of the bestselling cross-cultural communication book SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication’, which is available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book. She is President of Circles Of Excellence Inc. and a Professional Keynote Speaker. Contact Gayle if you need professional speakers for events, speakers on cultural diversity, conference speakers for events, or professional keynote speakers that specialize in cross-cultural communication training and cross-cultural training programs. She is a leader in the field of professional public speakers, professional motivational speakers, and international keynote speakers. She is among the best of female keynote speakers and women motivational speakers, and is a ‘first choice’ request for international audiences!

Circles Of Excellence provides Corporate Training, Executive Coaching, and Professional Keynote Speakers for companies of all sizes and in all industries, including over 50 Fortune 500 companies. Contact us about our customized programs for Communication Skills, Cross-Cultural Communications, Customer Service, Diversity, Leadership & Management, Presentation Skills, Sales & Negotiations, Stress Management, Team Building, and Time Management.

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Read My Interview in the Wall Street Journal on Asian /US Business Risk

Posted on January 26, 2014 by Leave a comment

The Morning Risk Report: How Asian Management Culture Affects Risk

Wall Street – street sign with building and charts in the background

By Ben DiPietro

A report this week of more than two dozen executives in South Korea offering to resign in the wake of a data breach that could put the personal information of more than 100 million cardholders at risk points to a difference in eastern and western business cultures—as there have been no offers of mass resignations following the Target Corp. breach that exposed information of 110 million cardholders.

Both David Clive Price, an expert on Asian business culture, and Gayle Cotton, an author and president of the corporate training company Circles of Excellence, say the differences in culture are based on the importance Asian nations place on the team over the individual and on saving face, or “preserving the surface of things,” as Mr. Price put it.  “The result is that ‘shame’ in the sense of an executive falling on his or her sword is felt more acutely, and more as a gesture to the collective spirit than in the West,” he said. “Also, many Asia companies are family-owned and –run with less attention paid to shareholders. So there is a complete set of comparatively different values and priorities at work.”

Ms. Cotton said the Asian way of doing things is not necessarily better than the western way, and can lead to problems if an entire team of executives resigns and leaves the company without the experience and knowledge to handle and move on from a crisis. It also may lead to executives trying to keep problems hidden to avoid the shame they will bring on the team and the company if they are made public. “I wouldn’t say they are necessarily any more responsible than we are, they just relate to that responsibility differently,” she said. “Here we are eager we take responsibility and the risk that comes with that responsibility. But we take it in stride, it’s part of the job: you win some, you lose some. There, it’s not that way…the way they look at failure prohibits them from being able to do that. You need to win and you need to win fairly and you need to protect the team you’re winning with, that will give the entire organization face.”

If you have a subscription to the Wall Street Journal you can read more there!

To learn more about the communication and business styles of Asia/Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East, order my book ‘SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Cross-Cultural Communication’ from Amazon!

Create Rapport and Organize Strategies for Success

The Cross of Cross-Cultural



Book website: SAY Anything to Anyone Anywhere!

Coming on my blog

Cross-cultural article: Culural Clues, Do’s & Taboos on JAPAN

Coming on the Circles Of Excellence blog

Cross-cultural article: Cultural Clues, Do’s and Taboos on SAUDI ARABIA

Check out the Articles ArchiveCultural Clues, Do’s and Taboos’  for countries you may have missed!

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