Humility & Respect
Editorial by President/CEO Mae Ferguson
Featured in Rotary Club of Fort Worth newsletter
Imagine that you have a crucial building project that will vastly change things for the better and your boss has assigned a partner to assist you. This partner has strengths that will compliment your areas of expertise and vice versa, but there is a problem; you only understand how to create triangles and your partner only understands how to create circles. How would you proceed? How would you find a common language so that you could achieve your goal?
As unlikely as this scenario might seem, it is not so different from attempting to conduct business with those in other countries. Often businesses, civic groups, religious institutions and even charities face challenges when working with people from different cultures. The most obvious barrier is language, but in many ways that barrier is the easiest to overcome.
There are often more important nuances to consider, such as: how do they like to be greeted, what conversational topics are taboo, what is customary in terms of giving gifts, what are their dining preferences, what is their viewpoint on doing business with women, what are their religious customs, what are their expectations on attire, what are their business customs, do they shake hands, bow or kiss?
Does conducting international business or traveling for leisure now seem more daunting when you are facing those questions? Technology has made it easier to conduct business worldwide. Companies sell to clients all over the world and dealing with different cultures can be tricky. But, it need not be.
Protocol training provides tools to help navigate these waters by respectfully considering these cultural nuances and familiarizing others to work within them. Training is needed for companies, civic groups, churches, individuals, and non-profit organizations to make international business and leisure travel easier and more engaging and successful.
In order to host international visitors and provide the best possible experience for their guests, companies will focus on specific nuances of different cultures for their training such as proper pronunciations, conversational topics, dining etiquette, potential pitfalls, how to make introductions properly, how to greet properly, the importance of punctuality and receiving and reading business cards.
As a certified protocol officer, I regularly consult with various groups to discover needs, goals and intent. Protocol trainings are customizable and tailored to the needs of any company, group, individual or organization all with a desired outcome of – mutual understanding and respect of other cultures and good international relations for all.
A quote I regularly use during trainings comes from Dorothea Johnson, who is the founder of the Protocol School of Washington who says, “The soul of politeness is not a question of rules but tranquility, humility and simplicity.”
In essence, the heart of protocol is caring enough to go the extra mile to ensure that you are presenting yourself, your company, your city or country respectfully, and it goes beyond that. It is caring enough to be open to receive the beauty that other cultures are waiting to share with you. When viewed through that lens, protocol becomes so much more than a set of rules or code of conduct. It truly is the Rosetta Stone that unlocks the power of international relations.