Business travel to Ireland? If you want the luck of the Irish, be prepared for your travel to Dublin, Limerick, or Shannon. It is important to know that National Pride is strong in Ireland. Be sure to avoid referring to an Irish treasure as British or English. With the exception of the six counties that make up Northern Ireland, the country has been independent since 1922, after 800 years of British rule. The Irish people are lovely, and I have enjoyed my travel to this island tremendously. Here are 5 business etiquette tips for business travel to Ireland:
1.Making Contact: Ireland is a market where recommendations, referrals, and testimonials are very useful. Trade shows, trade missions, and chamber of commerce introductions are good ways to connect with potential business associates and customers.
2.Hand Shaking: A light, confident handshake is common with introductions in Ireland. While the men exchange light handshakes, do not be surprised if some females chose not to offer to shake hands. It is appropriate to wait to see if the female executive offers her hand. It is appropriate to shake hands at the beginning and end of the meeting. Customarily, the Irish do not shake hands daily when arriving and departing the office; which is a common practice in some Continental cultures.
3.Eye Contact: Irish business people have indirect, or less direct, eye contact than in more expressive cultures. A truly direct gaze should be avoided, as it may be received as intense, rude or intrusive.
4. Forms of Address. Begin conversations with formal titles and use Mr. and Ms. until invited by a business colleague to “Please call me Sharon.” Medical doctors, dentists and clergy will expect visitors to call them “Doctor,” “Father” or “Reverend.” If you are in the military, from the south, or accustomed to responding “Yes ma’am” or “No sir” to older or retired people, avoid this practice in Ireland. Younger Irish business people are becoming less formal. It is becoming more common for the Irish to introduce themselves on the telephone as “Sharon” or “John.”
5.Gestures: The Irish use very few hand and arm gestures. It is best to avoid gestures when traveling internationally because gestures may be easily misinterpreted. Avoid pointing with the index finger while in Ireland, as it can be seen as accusatory. It is best to indicate direction quietly verbally with hours such as “1300” or a slight nod of the head. If the two-finger victory sign is used, be sure the palm is facing outward. Otherwise, with the palm facing inward, it is an obscene gesture.
One of the best parts of doing business in Ireland is the yummy pub lunch that is standard business entertainment! Dinners are more of a social event, and include fine local seafood. If you have questions, please send an email. Stay tuned for more in a later post on Irish Hospitality and Dining Etiquette.