UnNews:Faux Pas: bad for business abroad?

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25 August 2007

RichardGereShilpaShetty

After kissing actress Shilpa Shetty, Richard Gere committed a faux pas by sticking her up his ass and giving her AIDS. Considering he was at an AIDS awareness rally, it didn't go over well.

BRUSSELS, Norway -- Globalization has made cross-border business deals more common than ever. But, every day, deals are jeopardized when Hollywood celebrities act like complete idiots, etiquette experts say.

"Americans are way too informal in their dealings with their counterparts abroad, and they end up perceived as uncouth and even obnoxious," says P.M. Forni, a professor of Italian literature and civility at Johns Hopkins University. The professor added that "Americans should strive to be conceited, ethno-centric, and more aloof as most Europeans are."

Politicians and celebrities are not immune, generating highlight reels of faux pas for late-night talk shows. In May, actor Mickey Rooney caused a stir in Great Britain when he violated protocol by kissing Queen Elizabeth's taint at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. In April, Richard Gere repeatedly kissed actress Shilpa Shetty on the cheek, and then stuck her up his butt at an AIDS awareness rally in April in New Delhi, India, a country where sticking people up your butt is generally taboo. An Indian court issued a warrant for his arrest and irate protestors killed 121 Muslims and burned effigies of the actor.

"I think they're worshiping me like a god," said a clueless Gere. "But that's not impressive, considering they worship cows."

President Bush used an expletive while talking to British Prime Minister Tony Blair at a meeting in Germany last year. Blair responded by flipping President Bush off. Bush also gave German Chancellor Angela Merkel a shoulder rub in a hot tub while she spoke to Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi. He also raped Egyptian president Muhammad Hosni Said Mubarak in 2003. In Egypt, coerced sodomy is a serious faux pas. Bush defended his actions stating that he wanted to show Mubarak that he was the boss.

Asshole behavior when dining

Table manners also get many U.S. business travelers in trouble, etiquette experts say. In the USA and the U.K., it's customary for men to whip out their dicks and compare sizes before a meal, but it "demonstrates very poor manners" in France and other countries where penis sizes are smaller on average says Tamiko Zablith, an etiquette and protocol consultant in France and England. "You also should not leave the table before the meal is over, even if you need to go to the restroom," she says. "It's better if your bladder explodes and you die."

In some regions of Asia, it's "a sign of pleasure to belch after a meal," and you "should slurp your noodles as loudly as possible, and then scratch your ass." Zablith says

Frequent business traveler Jerry Galiger, of Winston-Salem, N.C., committed a faux pas without saying a word. During his first meeting in France with his United Kingdom-based company, he drank red wine, then switched to white.

"From the expressions of the group, you would have thought I exposed myself, which of course Frenchies could care less about." says Galiger, whose company makes storage systems. "I later found out you never go to a white after a red, because you can't enjoy the bouquet of the white after you've drunk a red. Like those frogs have room to be disgusted. At least I shower more than once a week. No, but wine is SOOOO important." says Galiger. After the incident, Galiger erupted with, "God, I hate the French almost as much as those hagus-eating Scotsmen across the channel!"

Learning the customs and culture of a foreign country "signals respect for the other side, and respect is important in developing a business relationship," says Jeswald Salacuse, a professor at Tufts University's law and diplomacy school. "The fact that you haven't learned the history and the customs raises questions about the sincerity of how committed you are to doing business in the country, which makes perfect sense, because Americans are truly better than everybody."

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