Cultural Clues, Do’s & Taboos: Communication Guidelines for SCOTLAND

Posted on April 27, 2014 by

The Latest! Cultural Clues, Do’s & Taboos – A Series of Cultural Tips for Countries from A to Z: SCOTLAND Scotland

The article ‘Cultural Clues, Do’s & Taboos for Scotland’ is a brief snapshot of conversation guidelines for Scotland, tips for communicating in Scotland, and strategies for doing business with 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!

Emmy Award Winner, Gayle Cotton, is the author of this article and of the bestselling book SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communications’She is President of Circles Of Excellence for Corporate Education and a distinguished Professional Keynote Speaker. Contact Gayle to be the next conference speaker for your event! She travels worldwide from business bases in Texas and Switzerland, and entertains and inspires audiences of all size with her fresh, unique, and humorous approach to cross-cultural communication and social business etiquette.

Cultural Tips for SCOTLAND

The points below also include some valuable business travel tips for Scotland

When doing business in Scotland, make an effort to speak in a low, moderate tone of voice. Talking too loudly in public is sometimes considered offensive and embarrassing.

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.

Keep your hands out of your pockets when standing and walking, as this is considered impolite.

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 a “question and answer” periods throughout.

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

Even if the 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.

5 Key Topics to Use in Conversation

  • The weather and 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 t topic of conversation,
  • Outdoor activities and sports are always of interest
  • Interesting experiences you may have had

5 Key Topics to Avoid in Conversation

  • 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 it’s a business related question for business
  • Politics, religion, and Northern Ireland

Bon Voyage!

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To learn more about the communication and business styles of Asia/Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East – order Gayle Cotton’s bestselling book SAY Anything to Anyone Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication’ – now available as an Audio Book on Amazon!

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Cross-cultural article: Cultural Clues, Do’s and Taboos for SCOTLAND

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