Following a country’s social norms and etiquette is essential for developing positive long-term relationships. If you are doing business in Canada, you will need to observe certain unwritten rules. Abiding by these will ensure your communications are effective.
Here are some of the formalities you can expect to encounter when doing business in Canada.
Slower negotiation. While business communications may be very fast in the United States, Canadians tend to take things a little more slowly, according to Executive Travel magazine. Observe and be patient when negotiating to avoid unnecessary tension and conflict.
Greeting and departing with a handshake. The most common greeting in Canada is the firm handshake. You should also make good eye contact and smile with each person you meet. In a less formal setting, French Canadian associates may greet each other with a light kiss on the left and right cheek, but this is typically not appropriate for the business setting, even if you already know the other person quite well. Also, depart from the meeting or event by shaking everyone’s hand and thanking them for their time.
Exchanging business cards. It is customary to exchange business cards after you have introduced yourself, rather than waiting until the end of the meeting. Have your business cards ready in your left hand so that you can shake hands with each person, and then give them a business card after telling them your name. If you are in Quebec, you will need to distribute business cards that include your information in French.
Meeting organization. Nearly all meetings will be very organized and have a prepared agenda. Be prepared to present an agenda or meeting outline shortly before your meeting so that everyone has a chance to prepare. Most meetings adhere to a time schedule, so you will need to pay attention to the clock as you move through the agenda items.
Titles and greetings. In most parts of Canada, it is customary to use the first name of the person you have been introduced to, but only after he or she has been introduced with a professional title. Titles and last names may not necessarily be used in a business setting. However, if you are doing business in Quebec, it is customary to use the title “madame” or “monsieur” with the person’s last name.