British Meeting Etiquette

One thing that can be said of meetings in the UK is that they are frequent. They are often also inconclusive, with the decision of the meeting being that another meeting should be held.
The British themselves often complain about the frequency and length of meetings they must attend.

In comparison with many other cultures, relatively little preparation is done for meetings (with the exception of client-facing meetings). This is because meetings are often viewed as the forum for the open debate of an issue and that, during that open debate, a route forward will be found. When the route forward is agreed then the detailed work schedule will be implemented. Being over-prepared for meetings in the UK can result in certain negative feelings towards those who have prepared in advance. ‘There is no point having a meeting with the Germans (for example) because they have already decided the outcome prior to the meeting.’

Agendas will be produced and followed loosely. If something important arises during the open debate it will not be excluded simply because it does not occur on the agenda.

The British consider themselves to be punctual, but when pressed will admit to rarely arriving on time. It is now fairly common for people to arrive five to ten minutes late for meetings.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Great Britain

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Overview

The United Kingdom remains one of the largest, most competitive markets in the world. It is a global centre of excellence across a wide range of business sectors as well as being a world-leader in higher education. The City of London, along with New York, continues to dominate international finance and UK-based legal firms retain their pre-eminence as global players.

Despite these massive positive factors, the UK faces a number of challenges going forward. How will the UK cope with a post-Brexit world as it navigates its way through the Brexit negotiations and looks to forge new partnerships outside it traditional markets within the EU? Will the UK be able to improve its notoriously poor productivity levels and will the City of London be able to retain its leadership role in global finance?

All of these questions will be answered in the coming decade but in the intervening period the UK remains open for business and the prospects for doing successful business in the UK remain positive. The UK actively seeks overseas companies who see the country as an attractive market and world-class incentives are in place to help you take advantage of a sophisticated consumer base and a highly educated workforce.

If you are considering doing business in the UK, you need to consider the cultural issues you are likely to encounter. Put simply, the British are quick to take offence. Your communication style might be viewed as aggressive, when you thought you were merely being helpfully direct or your negotiating style could appear confrontational when you thought you were offering useful alternatives. Study the UK approach to business in advance – it will pay dividends.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of business culture in the UK in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips