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Etiquette At-A-Glance: Canada
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Special Feature
From the March/April issue


*Canadians often begin relationships in a reserved manner; once people get to know one another they become friendly and informal.

*Canadians appreciate politeness and expect others to adhere to the proper protocol for any given situation.

*Shake hands with everyone at the meeting upon arrival and departure.

*Maintain eye contact while shaking hands.

*Men may offer their hand to a woman without waiting for her to extend hers first.

*Honorific titles and surnames are usually not used.

*Use academic titles with Canadians from Quebec, and use them with the honorific Monsieur or Madame.

*Business cards are exchanged after the initial introduction.

*Examine any card you receive before putting it in your card case.

In general, Canadians’ communication style tends to be "moderately indirect” perhaps reflecting an amalgamation of both North American and British tendencies. Although most Canadians can disagree openly when necessary, they prefer to do so with tact and diplomacy. Their communication style is essentially pragmatic and relies on common sense. If you come from a culture where communication is very direct, you may wish to soften your demeanor and tone so as not to appear threatening.

Communication styles can vary markedly between Canadians from the French regions and those from the British. Francophones are generally more indirect than Anglophones, and they also tend to be more exuberant than Anglophones. Anglophones do not generally interrupt someone who is speaking. They consider it rude not to let a person complete their thought before entering the discussion. Francophones are more likely to interrupt another speaker.

Canadians communicate more by the spoken word rather than non-verbal expressions. Non-verbal expressions are only really used to add emphasis to a message or are part of an individual’s personal communication style. Canadians like their space and prefer to be at an arm’s length when speaking to someone.

Canadians are reticent to discuss their personal lives with business associates. They expect people to speak in a straightforward manner and to be able to back up their claims with examples. They do not make exaggerated claims and are suspicious of something that sounds too good to be true. Canadians begin meetings with a minimal amount of small talk, although one should expect to spend a few minutes exchanging pleasantries and the like. You may find that Canadians from Quebec spend a bit more time spent on relationship-building.

Canadians appreciate meetings that are well-organized and adhere to time schedules. When presenting information, it is important to have facts and figures to substantiate claims and promises. Canadians are essentially rational and logical and thus they will not be convinced by emotions, passion, or feelings.

Source: Kwintessential

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