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Complete Guide to Business Etiquette In Ethiopia

When conducting business in Ethiopia, it’s important to understand local customs and etiquette. If you’re not familiar with the preferred way of doing things, you could inadvertently come off as rude.

Complete Guide to Business Etiquette In Ethiopia

When conducting business in Ethiopia, it’s important to understand local customs and etiquette. If you’re not familiar with the preferred way of doing things, you could inadvertently come off as rude.

Business etiquette in Ethiopia is somewhat related to that of other cultures in Africa. However, there are several customs that distinguish business etiquette in Ethiopia from that of other businesses in the continent. If you are dealing with the Ethiopian government, you may want to get more information on business etiquette in Ethiopia from the US Embassy in Ethiopia. They have a website that is helpful and informative.

Business Greetings

In general, Ethiopians tend to show a high amount of respect to those who are of a higher rank or have authority. As a result, a general rule in Ethiopia is to be respectful when speaking to those of authority and seniority. During business meetings, it is important to address the highest ranking and authoritative member of your party first. In addition, when attending meetings in Ethiopia, you should greet the company’s boss as the first thing on the agenda.

Business Dress

Ethiopian business meetings and events tend to be more formal than other countries in Africa. As such, you should always dress more formally when attending a business meeting. It is also important to be aware that while casual clothing is acceptable at times, it is best to avoid wearing shorts or rolled up sleeves as these are not considered appropriate.

Business Card Exchange

In Ethiopia, business cards are a necessary tool in doing business. In most cases, a new business contact will present a business card to you before you give one to them. If you are not appropriately dressed to do so, you can present the business card with an outstretched hand or a handshake. The business card should always be given with the right hand. After the business cards are exchanged, it is common for the receiving side to hold onto them until they have left the premises.

Business Gifts

Ethiopia is a cultural in which gifts are common. In Ethiopia, business gifts are usually not presented until after the conclusion of business. As such, give your business gifts with care and wait until a more appropriate time to give them. Business gifts should not be opened immediately before presenting them. They should be given in a box, and the gift should be given with both hands. In Ethiopian culture, it is believed that any item given with two hands is blessed with good fortune.

Business Meetings & Conferences

Ethiopia is a country in which government and business are intertwined. As a result, meetings with government officials are usually part of the business culture. Official business is of the most priority, followed by personal business, while entertainment is of the least importance. As such, when attending a meeting, you should be cognizant of any events that might take place outside the meeting room.

Business Lunch & Dinner

When attending business meetings or events in Ethiopia, it is important that you don’t arrive late. Your hosts will probably be waiting for you before going to any meal/dinner event. Most meals with business associates will not begin until after you have arrived. Foreign businesspeople should be aware that Ethiopian business meals tend to be lengthy and may go as long as four hours. Whenever possible, try to avoid holding business meetings while you are attending an official luncheon/dinner or any event that is in honor of someone else. In general, business meals and luncheons should be reserved for after a commitment has been made.

In Ethiopian culture, it is considered proper to wait until everyone at the table has been served before starting the meal. At the end of a business meal, it is considered proper to say “thank you” at least three times.

Thank You Cards

In Ethiopian culture, sending thank you cards and flowers after a business meeting is seen as a good way to close a business relationship. Expressing one’s gratitude in this manner confirms a mutual business relationship. You should also find out what the proper flower or design of the thank you cards should be. It is also important that you know what the card should say.

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