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Say What?

Honesty is not always the best policy.

This story appears in the October 1998 issue of

Our American custom is to be friendly right away. We call each other by our first names and share a few drinks at business lunches. We talk about families and hobbies, and share observations that may be better left unsaid. In contrast, Europeans rarely get that friendly for at least a year--if ever. And Japanese businesspeople often want to socialize with prospective clients and business partners for weeks or months before they trust them in business.

Americans are known worldwide for our comparatively naive candor. Having conducted business in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France and China, I can assure you that in an increasingly intercultural business world, "shooting from the lip" doesn't cut it.

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