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  Visitors share their favorite stories & favorite faux pas...

Our company was hosting a group of Chinese prospects. We reserved a beautiful suite at the best hotel in town, room 4444, on the top floor with a spectacular view. Our guests were visibly uncomfortable throughout the meeting, and we thought they just had jetlag. Not until later did we learn that in many parts of Asia, the number four is pronounced the same as the word for death, and is considered very unlucky, much as our number 13!

I was sent to Japan by my company and told to go close the deal. I had never been to Japan, but thought I would read up on the culture on the plane. I thought I was adequately prepared and went in for the first meeting. Everything went wrong. I am now a seasoned traveler to Japan and realize that I made several mistakes, not the least of which was to stuff business cards I received into my pocket. I also discovered that I used direct eye contact much too much, and remember being suspicious of the Japanese because they would continually avoid looking me in the eye.
Our international division was expanding. We needed new business cards, so we developed a new look, incorporating the red in our corporate logo. We printed everyone's name in red letters. After passing cards out around the world, we found out that in several countries red is considered inappropriate. For example, it is associated with mourning in some African countries; people in Mexico are sometimes offended; Buddhists write a person's name in read when they die, to name just a few.



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