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Canada Business Etiquette & Culture

Canada etiquette, manners, culture, gift giving,  and protocl                       Canadian etiquette, manners, culture

Canada Introduction

Canada has a population just less than 30 million people in a country twice the area of the United States. The heritage of Canada was French and English; however, significant immigration from Asia and Europe's non-French and English countries has broadened Canada's cultural richness. This cultural diversity is considered a national asset, and the Constitution Act prohibits discrimination against individual citizens on the basis of race, color, religion, or sex. The great majority of Canadians are Christian. Although the predominant language in Canada is English, there are at least three varieties of French that are recognized: Quebecois in Quebec, Franco-Manitoban throughout Manitoba and particularly in the St. Boniface area of Winnipeg, and Acadian. The Italian language is a strong third due to a great influx of Italian immigrants following W.W.II.

Canada's three major cities are distinctively, even fiercely different from one another even though each is a commercially thriving metropolitan center. Montreal, established in the 17th century and the largest French city outside France, has a strong influence of French architecture and culture. It is a financial and manufacturing center and seaport, with the majority of Canada's European exports and imports coming through its harbor. Toronto, another major financial and commercial center, is filled with office towers not historic buildings. It has a great number of people living in and around the central business district. The downtown district does not "close up" when people leave work. Vancouver, nestled at the base of the Coast Mountains, is the financial, commercial, agricultural, and industrial center for western Canada. It's harbor and mountains make it one of Canada's most picturesque. Consequently, West Vancouver is the most densely populated urban area and has the highest income per person of any municipality.

Canada Fun Fact

The western frontier was "opened" in 1885 when the Canadian transcontinental railroad completed its peaceful construction process. The railroad offered cheap land so immigrants moved in communities establishing towns with citizens from the same European country. These settlements, along with the Inuit communities, give Canada cultural diversity across its nation, not just in major metropolitan cities. Keep in mind that Quebec, because it is a French province, has a very different value system from the rest of Canada, with its predominately English influence.



Geert Hofstede Analysis for Canada


The majority of Canadians, as well as citizens of other English speaking countries, (see Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States) have individualism ranked highest. Success is measure by personal achievement. Canadians tend to be self-confident and open to discussions on general topics; however, they hold their personal privacy off limits to all but the closest friends. It should be noted there is tension between the French province of Quebec and other Canadian provinces. Citizens of Quebec tend to be more private and reserved. Ethnocentrism is high throughout Canada, but particularly in Quebec.

Canada has Individualism (IDV) as the highest ranking (80) Hofstede Dimension, and is indicative of a society with a more individualistic attitude and relatively loose bonds with others. The populace is more self-reliant and looks out for themselves and their close family members. Privacy is considered the cultural norm and attempts at personal ingratiating may meet with rebuff.

The majority of Canadians, as well as citizens of other English speaking countries, (see United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States) have Individualism as their highest ranking Dimension.

Among high IDV countries, success is measured by personal achievement. Canadians tend to be self-confident and open to discussions on general topics; however, they hold their personal privacy off limits to all but the closest friends .

Canadian's lowest ranking Dimension is Long Term Orientation at 23, compared to the average of 45 among the 23 countries surveyed for which scores have been calculated. This low LTO ranking is indicative of societies' belief in meeting its obligations and tends to reflect an appreciation for cultural traditions.

Canada's Power Distance (PDI) is relatively low, with an index of 39, compared to a world average of 55. This is indicative of a greater equality between societal levels, including government, organizations, and even within families. This orientation reinforces a cooperative interaction across power levels and creates a more stable cultural environment.

It should be noted there is tension between the French province of Quebec and other Canadian provinces. Citizens of Quebec tend to be more private and reserved. Ethnocentrism is high throughout Canada, but particularly in Quebec. This may be in part due to the difference in religious background of the French population, predominately Catholic, and the English population, predominantly Christian.

The predominant religions in Canada are Catholic 42% and Christian 40%, but the population is somewhat segregated, with a high percentage of French Catholic's in Quebec. Note that the predominant religion in France is Catholic (83%) and in the United Kingdom is Christian (70%). More Details on Geert Hofstede

Written by Stephen Taylor - the Sigma Two Group

 

Religion in Canada


* WORLD FACTBOOK 2011

Note that we have defined a predominantly Christian country as over 50% of the population practicing some form of Christianity, other than Catholicism. In this group, the primary correlation between religion and the Geert Hofstede Dimensions is a high Individualism (IDV) ranking. (See the accompanying article).

 

Appearance in Canada

International Business Dress and Appearance  Plan for a very cold climate, especially during their winter.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Men should wear a dark conservative business suit with tie, especially in cities. Build a wardrobe based on classic lines (selecting suits with a traditional lapel width, and ties staying within a traditional width range). Conservative colors of navy and gray, and shirts in white and light blue.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Women should wear a conservative business suit or dress, especially in cities. Select your clothing with classic lines and colors in mind. Navy, gray, ivory, and white are the basics to work with. The major cities can be very sophisticated.

International Business Dress and Appearance  New or trendy clothing is a poor choice. Older, classic clothing that is clean and neat is more valued. Choosing quality, natural fibers for your wardrobe will give you this look. Quality leather shoes are important to completing this look.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Rural areas are less formal, but stay conservative in your wardrobe. Even with cold winter weather you may find yourself in a skirt or dress. Add a good quality long coat with minimal and classic detail to your wardrobe. In addition to navy and gray, a classic camel coat, or a lined Burberry may be a good addition. This will work for a sophisticated city meeting, or a more casual rural meeting.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Casual attire is appropriate when you are not working. The weather and activity will dictate what you will be wearing. Build a casual wardrobe using the classic colors (camel is additional color for casual). You will look professional, even though relaxed.

International Business Dress and Appearance  The "V for Victory" sign is an insult if your palm is facing yourself. If you must use this sign, face your palm outward.

 

Behavior in Canada 

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Be punctual for meetings and appointments, as promptness is valued. In French areas, time is more relaxed. However, you will be expected to arrive at the appointed time, even if the French attending the meeting don't.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Always maintain a reserved demeanor, and follow good rules of etiquette. Traditions and gracious manners are part of the culture, even in more rural areas. If you travel to different cities or areas, pay attention to local customs. By being observant, you will respect the pace and nuances of each area.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Do not eat while walking in public. Plan your time so you can stop in a café or restaurant to enjoy your snack.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Gifts are not routinely given. If you do give a gift when you arrive or when you are leaving, make it a modest one. A lavish gift, though accepted, would be frowned upon.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Gifts are given to celebrate finalizing a negotiation, a contract, or a project. Gifts for the office, a nice bottle of wine or liquor would be appropriate. Considering a gift for someone in Canada, see gifts to Canada.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Taking a business associate to a nice meal or an evening sporting event, play, or symphony is always a nice gesture.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Invitations to private homes are rare. Occasionally, in the western provinces, you may be invited to someone's home. If you are invited, you may take candy, flowers, or liquor to the host or hostess.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Wait for your host to start a business conversation during or following a meal. Traditionally, business is not discussed during dinner; however, this is slowly changing.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Personal space and body movement or gestures differ between the English and the French provinces and cities. In English areas, body movement is minimal, there is rarely touching other than handshakes, and personal space - how close someone stands - is about two feet. In French areas, people stand closer together, people will frequently touch, and gestures are more expressive.

 

Communications in Canada 

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Use a firm handshake with good eye contact when meeting and leaving. Both French and English areas use and expect a firm handshake.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Men will wait for a woman to extend her hand for a handshake.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  French Canadians will shake hands more frequently, even with a subsequent encounter the same day. Others may just nod or smile at a subsequent encounter on the same day.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Use a person's title if he or she has one. Otherwise, use Mr., Mrs., Miss and the surname.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  English is spoken in most of Canada. French is spoken in Quebec, and some area of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  French Canadians may use their first name when talking to you on the telephone, but will generally use their full name when meeting you in person.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Be open and friendly in your conversation. If you are naturally reserved in your behavior, you will appear confident and credible. If your natural tendency is large sweeping arm gestures, restrain yourself when meeting and talking with Canadians - other than with French Canadians.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  French Canadians stand closer and are more demonstrative when talking.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  For French Canadians, print all material in French and English.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Don't be boastful, and don't overstate your product or service's capabilities. You could implicate your company in a legal situation.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  If you are from the U. S., don't say, "we Americans", inferring you are including your Canadian hosts or guests in your reference. Canada is a distinct country with its own wonderful history and culture.

 

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Page authored by: Kimberley Roberts & Stephen Taylor



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