Cultural Clues, Communication Guidelines for SCOTLAND

Flag of Scotland

When doing business in Scotland, keep in mind that addresses in Scotland are written in the following order: (1) country (2) city (3) street address and (4) the last name of the individual.

The Scots tend to be a very soft-spoken and private people, and it may take longer to develop a rapport with them. They become friendlier and more open once the relationship is established.

In conversation, the Scots tend to downplay hand gestures and other physical expressions. Make an effort to speak in a low, moderate tone of voice. Talking too loudly in public is sometimes considered offensive and embarrassing.

Scots tend to be a ‘low-contact’ people. Rather than touching or getting too close, it is more appropriate to remain at least one arms’ length distance from your Scottish counterpart.

Scots are very respectful when standing in lines. Some people around you may ask you questions, however you should limit any “small talk” which may be disturbing to others.

The Scots are very proud of their culture, which has strong traditions. Avoid making comments that group the Scots with the English. Scots are very proud of their distinctive heritage.

Learn something about the Scottish culture to contribute to the conversation. Refrain from making jokes statements in jest about any aspect of their culture.

Refer to things that are of Scottish origin as “Scottish.” Be aware that “Scotch” is not the correct term to use and may cause offense.

If you are a woman, you may be referred to as “deary” or “love” once you’re considered an acquaintance or friend in Scotland. Don’t be offended — these expressions are considered acceptable and endearing.

Although Scottish women participate in the work force, there are typically fewer in managerial positions. Women business travelers should maintain a professional demeanor, dress conservatively, and show a strong knowledge of their field.

While first names are becoming more commonly used in business, before presuming to use a Scot’s first name, wait to be invited.

Keep in mind, the title “Sir” should be used when addressing a man who has been knighted by the Queen, followed by his first name. For instance, Sir Andrew Carnegie would be addressed as “Sir Andrew.”

In Scottish business culture, it is important to be punctual at work and in social situations. Also arrive on time if invited to a dinner party.

Business cards should be printed in English, the national language. Ensure that you bring a plentiful supply, since Scottish businesspeople tend to be keen to exchange them.

The most senior executives in the majority of Scottish companies are known as “managing directors.” They are responsible for making final decisions.

One way of understanding the “chain of command” is by observing the amount of deference given to others during a meeting. While the managing director will be instrumental in the final decision, carefully watching how the participants treat each other can often be revealing.

During business presentations, always pause and allow for “question and answer” periods throughout.

It’s an asset to have visuals such as charts and graphs in any business presentation materials.

Even if a meeting becomes informal at times, it is still important to remain guarded and professional.

Shortly after a meeting, it is a good policy to provide follow-up by sending a summary of the results to your Scottish contacts.

Do’s and Taboos for Scotland

5 Key Conversation or Cultural Gesture Tips

  • The weather or beautiful countryside of Scotland – which is lovely even in the rain!
  • Your travels in Scotland, Europe, and other countries
  • Scotland’s history, literature, architecture, and art Family is a good topic of conversation,
  • Outdoor activities and sports are always of interest
  • Interesting experiences you may have had

5 Key Conversation or Cultural Gesture Taboos

  • Comments that compare the Scots with the English
  • Using the term “Scotch” to refer to the Scottish may cause offense.
  • Inquiring about a Scot’s family, until they bring it up first
  • Asking what a person does for a living, unless the answer is business-related and not personal
  • Politics, religion, and Northern Ireland

Bon Voyage!

Join us in the future for Do’s and Taboos for SINGAPORE!

To learn more about the Dos and Taboos for different cultures, and the cultural communication styles for Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East – order Gayle Cotton’s bestselling book available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book

Watch the ‘Say Anything-5 Keys’ Video

Create Rapport and Organize Strategies for Success

The CROSS of Cross-Cultural

Cultural Tips for Countries from A to Z 

Cultural Tips for Scotland – including some valuable business travel tips for Scotland

This article on cultural differences in Scotland and cultural travel tips for Scotland is a brief snapshot of conversation guidelines for Scotland, tips for communicating in Scotland, and business strategies for Scotland to help with understanding the culture in Scotland. It’s important to keep in mind that as we homogenize as a ‘global culture’, cultural tendencies change and evolve as well. Awareness is the first step when it comes to cultural do’s and taboos for Scotland and tips for intercultural communication!

It’s easy for business travelers to think that even when they travel, business is going to be done pretty much the same way it is at home. But that’s not always the case. Cultural differences can have a big impact on global business etiquette. That’s why it’s important for business travelers to make sure that they understand the culture of the country that they’re doing business in.

Emmy Award Winner, Gayle Cotton, is the author of this blog and of the bestselling cross-cultural communication book SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication’, which is available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book. She is President of Circles Of Excellence Inc. and a Professional Keynote Speaker. Contact Gayle if you need professional speakers for events, speakers on cultural diversity, conference speakers for events, or keynote speakers that specialize in cross-cultural training. She is a leader in the field of public speakers, motivational speakers, and international keynote speakers. She is among the best of female keynote speakers and women motivational speakers and is a ‘first choice’ request for international audiences!

Circles Of Excellence provides Corporate Training, Leadership Coaching, and Professional Keynote Speakers for companies of all sizes and in all industries, including over 50 Fortune 500 companies. Contact us about our customized training programs for Communication Skills, Cross-Cultural Communication, Cultural Diversity, Customer Service, Leadership Coaching, Presentation Skills, Sales Negotiations, Stress Management, Team building, and Time Management Training.

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