Вusiness etiquette British
Overview of the work schedule and punctuality of the working people of England. Conservative attitudes to business arrangements and style in British business culture. The concept of "dress-down Fridays". Difficulties communications from the British.
|Рубрика||Этика и эстетика|
|Размер файла||15,6 K|
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In theory, official working hours are normally 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday to Friday. In practice, most employees work considerably longer hours; many will be at their desks by 8:30 a.m. and executives rarely leave before 7:00 p.m. Professionals like lawyers and consultants may not arrive before 9:30 a.m. but, on the other hand, they may not leave the office until the following day. Generally, the British prefer to stay late in the office than to take work home with them even if they do carry a briefcase (their `executive lunch-box').
Government offices close for lunch between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. but stay open until 5:30 p.m.
The opening hours for shops are almost completely deregulated, though there are some restrictions on Sunday trading, and many outlets are open 24/7 even outside the major urban areas. Banks are generally open 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Appointments should be made at least a few days in advance and, ideally, confirmed on arrival in the UK. Most British businessmen are not so jealous of their diaries that they will decline to meet a visitor even at relatively short notice. Grander members of the so-called 'Establishment', however, may have uncooperative PAs to shield them, whilst jet-setting entrepreneurs may be genuinely too busy. Cold calling is not appreciated.
It is best to avoid July and August when those with children are almost obliged to take their annual vacation. Easter is also popular for holidaying and there are two Bank Holidays in May that may catch the unwary visitor [especially in a year when Easter falls in late April]. UK industry closes almost completely between Christmas and New Year.
Otherwise the UK has only eight national holidays a year, which is the lowest number in Europe.
The easiest times of day to arrange an appointment are probably mid-morning (say 11:00 a.m.) and mid-afternoon (say 4:00 p.m.). Breakfast meetings are rare outside London and other major cities and it is unlikely that an initial meeting will involve lunch (or dinner).
Punctuality is appreciated but no one really minds if you arrive a little late [up to 15 minutes] for a one-to-one meeting. Obviously, though, if several people are involved then there is a greater likelihood that someone will have another engagement to attend. On the other hand, you should not arrive too promptly for social events - but aim to arrive a respectable fifteen minutes after the specified time; thus, if a dinner invitation states '7:30 p.m. for 8:00 p.m.', it means that you will be expected at about 7:50 p.m.
Finally, it should be remembered that the UK led the world with its transport infrastructure in the 19th century. Much of it survives intact. This means that journeys in London and the South East in particular may take considerably longer than advertised and/or expected. The London underground (the `Tube') and long-distance rail services are the worst offenders. The flow of traffic in central London has improved greatly since the introduction of congestion charging [drivers must now pay Ј5 per day to enter the clearly marked inner zone] but many main roads resemble car parks at peak times even without accidents. The M25 is notorious in this respect, especially now there are major roadworks on the western section near Heathrow airport.
So, the more important the meeting, the more time you should allow for almost inevitable delay.
Conservative dress is the norm for both men and women in British business culture where darker colours (black, dark blue, charcoal grey) and heavier fabrics (wool) predominate. No one wears a morning suit and bowler hat to work nowadays but the traditional pinstripe is still immensely popular.
In some ways, the British often appear indifferent to both style and fashion but there remains an almost snobbish awareness of `quality'.
Thus, senior bankers, civil servants, lawyers and accountants are still likely to shop at smart outfitters in London's West End: bespoke suits from Savile Row (pure wool, double-breasted, two vents, four buttons on the cuff of which two are functional and the other two decorative), shirts from Jermyn Street (pure cotton, full-cut, double cuffs with links) with silk tie, and hand-made leather Oxford shoes.
Other occupations dress differently. For example, those in advertising or the media are prone to wearing something rather more flamboyant, though still stylish, from a leading designer. Middle management is more likely to be driven by cost than fabric or style and hence to shop in one of the High-Street chains. It will, however, still entail a subfusc suit for both men and women. Women may wear trousers (including trouser-suits). Neither sex should wear denim.
Some British firms have introduced the concept of `dress-down' Friday with its code of `smart casual' but it is not universal and it is better to err on the side of being over-dressed (you can always take off your jacket). IT departments dress down all week.
Do not imagine that the British businessman or businesswoman dresses as if he or she is about to go off hunting or shooting. Tweed, corduroy and comfortable brown brogues do belong in the country but they should remain there (or in the more ancient universities). Similarly, with the possible exception of lairds and gillies, the Scots do not wear kilts to work; they may be strongly associated with Scotland's cultural heritage but they are only ever seen at Highland weddings and other social gatherings and when Scottish sports supporters travel abroad. The rest is another outdated clichй.
Nevertheless, the British still like donning the appropriate uniform for certain social functions. A day's horse racing at Royal Ascot, for example, demands morning dress and a top hat whilst an evening at Glyndebourne opera house requires a dinner jacket and black tie (preferably not a white tuxedo). The rules are becoming more relaxed but London clubs and smarter hotels and restaurants may still require gentlemen to wear jacket and tie (supplied by the concierge if need be) and ladies not to wear trousers. Weddings and some dinners may be formal (if so, the invitation will state this) but, if you have travelled half way round the world to be there, no one will mind if you did not bring your morning suit or dinner jacket. On the other hand, it is relatively easy to hire suitable attire; your efforts would be appreciated and you would also feel less out of place.
Most Britons are reserved by nature and often find it difficult to indulge in small talk with a complete stranger. Indeed, there are situations where idle conversation is actually frowned upon, for example when travelling on the London underground; in these circumstances, a newspaper will act as a defensive tool in public whilst also providing potential material for subsequent social intercourse in private.
On the whole, northerners tend to be more immediately friendly than southerners, although true Scottish Highlanders will hardly say a word until you get to know them better and Welsh farmers can be especially taciturn. You should not be offended if people outside the 'Home Counties' of southeast England address you in apparently familiar or overly affectionate terms such as `dear' or `love' (whether you are a man or a woman).
For the most part, the British speak in low, moderate, measured tones without raising the voice or gesticulating wildly for emphasis. They also like to maintain their own personal space and will shy away from those they find invasive.
Although not all Britons are particularly articulate, you should make an effort to speak in complete sentences; the British generally find the North American habit of trailing off in mid-sentence rather irritating. Nor should you interrupt someone; intonation conveys one has finished speaking and, in British English, the voice normally goes down at the end of an affirmative sentence.
Britons prefer to avoid animated discussions; if an argument does become heated, it is quite likely to have been fuelled by alcohol and it may be time for you to make your excuses and withdraw. For this reason, unless you are desperate for human contact, it is usually best to avoid sitting or standing at a bar. Obviously, this is doubly applicable for women. In any case, a newspaper or some work to look at should again afford a degree of protection from bores and boors alike.
It is always advisable to try to initiate conversation with open questions rather than an assertion of a personal point of view. The British are largely tolerant and open-minded but every nation has its bigots and many Britons derive their opinions from the tabloid press, which typically expresses itself in black-and-white terms (the UK's sometimes fraught relationship with the EU and continental Europe generally represents a prime example of the way in which opinion can divide into two extremely entrenched camps). This phenomenon is exemplified by the archetypal London taxi driver whose often extreme opinions should be taken with a large pinch of salt. Almost all Britons, however, are proud of their culture and heritage and this should be respected not mocked.
A major difficulty in effective communication can be the British predilection for self-deprecation, which manifests itself frequently in the form of irony and litotes. Usage reflects the level of educational attainment but everyone tends to understate everything, whether good or bad. A pensive `hum' may convey enthusiasm or hostility - or indifference. This may be disconcerting for foreigners, especially Americans, who are more accustomed to a forthright directness that Britons find embarrassing.
Despite their reputation for stiff formality, the British are in fact quite informal and the immediate use of first names is increasingly prevalent in all walks of British life, especially amongst the young (under 40-45 years of age) and in the newer industries.
Nevertheless, you should always wait to be invited to use first names before doing so yourself. Quite often the invitation will be spontaneous but it may never happen at all.
Until then - and not all Britons like the up-front American approach - you should be careful to follow strict protocol, especially when dealing with older members of the 'Establishment.' No one is offended by exaggerated correctness whereas premature informality may be deemed presumptuous. Equally, it is best to avoid the American habit of constantly repeating someone's name in the course of a conversation once on first-name terms.
Exhaustive manuals such as Debrett's Correct Form set out the full intricacies of how one should properly address the Queen, a lord, a bishop or an admiral but a simple and effective guiding principle in ordinary circumstances is to follow the title given on a business card or the one given when first introduced.
The same principles apply to writing letters. You should start off formally and continue until your correspondent hints (e.g. by signing off with just his or her first name) that it is appropriate to switch. Some correspondences, however, may continue formally until the writers actually meet. Subordinates may never feel comfortable addressing their superiors by their first name either in writing or orally. вritish business culture
The rules for e-mail are more relaxed but there are some who write e-mails as if they were writing a `normal' letter. In any case, there is no excuse for not using the spellchecker.
Different conventions apply when it comes to official documents, meetings, conferences etc. where it is common practice to use full titles even if all the participants would ordinarily be on first-name terms. Thus: `Mr Chairman', `the Commander-in-Chief thinks', `the Prime Minister is mistaken', and so on.
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