Principles of diplomatic etiquette and business communication with foreign partners (II)

13/02/2014 10:47am

Автор: editorial

Категории: business ethics


Principles of diplomatic etiquette and business communication with foreign partners (II)

 The article is devoted to Ushakov B.G.
Foreign Trade Academy, Moscow.

Receptions and their organization

Receptions may be: afternoon and evening; receptions with seatting at the table and without. To afternoon may be referred receptions of “champagne glass”, “wineglass” type and breakfast.  In international practice afternoon receptions is considered to be less ceremonial than evening ones. To evening may be referred receptions of “jour-fixe” type, cocktail, “a la fourchette’, lunch, lunch-bar, supper.

Reception types

“Champagne glass” starts as rule at 12 o’clock and lasts for an hour. The reason for organization may be anniversary of national holiday, presence of delegation in the country, departure of embassador, exhibition or festival opening. Beverages and snacks are served by waiters. From the point of view of organization, it is the simplest type of reception that does not require long preparation. The similar reception is “wineglass”. In this case the name underlines special character of reception.
Breakfast is arranged between 12 and 3 p.m. The most common time for breakfast is from 12 till 1 p.m.. Breakfast menu is composed in respect with existing in the country traditions and customs. It usually consists of one-two dishes of cold food, one hot fish plate, one hot meat course and dessert. It is not customary to serve soups, though it will not be a mistake. After breakfast some coffee or tee is provided. Before breakfast a cocktail (dry wine, juices) is provided, during breakfast – mineral water and sometimes juices. After all the guests took a meal, man of the house or mistress stands up and offers the guests to go into the other hall, where coffee is served. Duration of breakfast is 1-1.5 hours (approximately 45-60 minutes at the table and 15-30 minutes for coffee). The main guest gives an initiative for leaving the breakfast. Dress code for breakfast: in general it is casual wear, but while solemn occasions it may be dinner jacket. Usually dress code is stated in the invitation.
Tea is arranged between 4 and 6 p.m., only for women as a rule. For example, Foreign Secretary’s wife holds a reception for post heads’ wives, and legate’s wives hold a reception for other legate’s wives. It is possible to invite men for this reception. For tea one or several tables are served, depending on the amount of persons invited, pastry or bun goods, fruits, dessert or dry wine, juices and water are served. Snacks (roed sandwiches, sandwiches with fish, cheese and sausages) are rarely served after tea, but if served, then in small amounts. Duration of tea time is 1-1.5 hours. Dress code: casual wear or dress.
Reception of “Jour-fixe” type is held by Foreign Secretary’s wife or other cabinet minister or by legate’s wife once a week at the same day and time while autumn-winter season (from autumn till summer). Invitations for such receptions (“Wednesdays”, “Thursdays”, “Fridays”) are sent once in a season and good till the end of the season, if there is no special notice about pause. This reception does not differ from tea.  Sometimes such receptions are of musical nature or literary evening. For “jour-fixe” reception also men may be invited. 
Cocktail or reception standing are held between 5 p.m. and 20.00 and last for two hours. Among food there are different cold dishes, pastry and fruits. Sometimes even hot dishes are served. Food should not be spread. At the receptions of such type, alcoholic beverages are on the tables or, being poured in the glasses, are served by waiters. Sometimes in one of the halls there is a refreshment room, where the waiters serve drinks. At the end of reception champagne may be served and then coffee. Receptions of cocktail type are also standing. Guests come up to the tables, take snacks on their plates and walk off the table in order to give an opportunity other guests to approach. Dress code: casual wear or dinner jacket, depending on the event and whether it is stated in the invitation.

Lunch starts within 8 and 9 p.m. and is considered to be the most honourable type of reception. Lunch menu consists of one or two cold dishes, soup, one hot fish dish, one hot meat dish and dessert. After lunch there served tea or coffee in the living room. Lunch menu differs from breakfast one with soup serving after cold dishes. There is no need to serve sherry with soup. With cold dishes may be served vodka or liqueur (cooled), to fish dish  - dry white wine (cooled), to meat dish – dry red wine (at room temperature), for dessert – champagne (cooled), for coffee – lace (at room temperature). Lunch usually lasts 2-2.5 hours, at the table approximately – 50-60 minutes, the rest time in the living rooms. Dress code: black suit, dinner jacket or tail coat, depending on the event and whether it is stated in the invitation; for women - evening dress is the most preferable.
In some official cases just after lunch the reception standing is held. Guests those were present at dinner, after its end go to the reception standing. Such combination of two receptions is organized in connection with residence in the country of foreign statesman or foreign delegation, in honor of which the reception is held. Dress code: the same as while dinner.
Supper starts at 9 p.m. and later. Menu and vines are the same as while dinner. Dress code: black suit, dinner jacket or tail coat; for women – evening dress. Supper differs from dinner only with time for beginning – not earlier 9 p.m.
Evening reception “a la fourchette” is held in special events (in honor of foreign state prime-minister, foreign government delegation, on the occasion of national holiday, etc). It begins at 8 p.m. and later. Food is the same as at cocktail reception and reception standing, but more various and full. Dress code: black suit, dinner jacket or tail coat; for women – evening dress.
Lunchbar supposes general seating at small tables for up to six persons. The tables with food are served, there is bar with beverages, the same as at the reception standing. Guests take snacks and sit down to any table. Such reception is often organized after a concert, film watching, within the pause of dancing-party. Lunchbar is less official then lunch.
The kinds of receptions are cinema shows, musical and literary evenings, evenings of friendship, meetings for golfing, tennis, chess and other sport games.
All these events are accompanied with light food. Dress code for such events: casual wear; for women – suit or dress.
 Preorganization of receptions
Any reception must be prepared in every manner. Reception organization includes: choice of type of reception, making a list of guests, distribution of invitations, making seating plan at the table while breakfast, lunch or supper, making the menu, table setting and service. Preparation of toasts or speeches, plotting (procedure) the reception.
While determining the data of reception, one should consider that receptions are not held on holidays, in paynim countries – on religious holiday Ramadan. Receptions are not held while national mourning and those, which were appointed, should be canceled.
Choice of type of reception
The type of reception should be chosen in respect with the event, in honor of which the reception must be held. Herewith the international diplomacy, according to which the most ceremonial and honorable type of reception is lunch or evening reception, should be considered. If it cancerns foreign head of state or prime-minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, other cabinet ministers of country visited, then one should choose lunch. In less important cases, the other type of reception should be chosen. Herein one should always consider protocol traditions and customs, established in this country. These traditions will help to chose the type of reception.
Making a list of guests
One of the most important moments of reception organization is making the list of guests. Invtation for diplomatic reception is always of political character that is why making the list of guests should be encharged to responsible person and confirmed by man of the house. List maker first of all should determine the total amount of guests, who are supposed to be invited. This amount should not exceed normal serviceability and sufficiency of space, where the reception will take place; herewith it is important to consider certain percentage of guests, which may decline the invitation.
To the list of gusts first of all representatives of government officials, diplomatic service, members of the public must be included. To the receptions (breakfast, lunch, supper, cocktail or reception standing), held in restricted attendance, one should not invite those with opposite views. In order such receptions were successful, persons with similar party identification or those in friendly relations should be invited.
Invitations and distribution
Invitation to a reception is sent on a pre-printed form, typographically printed. Name and post of the invited are written in handwriting or with the help of printing device. For receptions on the occasion of national holiday or in honor of a statesman or delegation, special pre-printed forms are ordered, where the reason is stated. While breakfast, lunch and other type of reception organization, with seating at the table, in the invitation there is reply request (R.S.V.P. or “please reply”). In case when breakfast or lunch are served in honor of Prime-minister or Foreign Secretary or other person of high standing, the invitation is sent only after acceptance an oral invitation.
In this case inscription R.S.V.P. is crossed out and over is written letters "p.m." or "pour memoire” or "to remind". When under the letters R.S.V.P. “regrets only” is written, then you should answer only in case of declination the invitation because of different reasons. Such invitations are sent not later than in one-two weeks prior, depending on the local practice. Depending on circumstances, the invitations are sent by courier or by post. Invitations for official persons and central figures should be always sent with courier.
Seating at official breakfast, lunch or supper should be performed in accordance with generally accepted protocol rules. Seating requires strict observance of accepted official or social position of guests. Breaking the main rule of seating may be interpreted as willful prejudice (towards both the guest and the country he represents) and may lead to disagreeable circumstances or misunderstanding in relations. To avoid difficulties while seating, one should have an accurate picture, before sending invitations, where the invited guests will be sitting. With this aim an outline plan of guests seating is made beforehand, and if there appear some difficulties, this plan is amended.
Certain routine concerning denoting places at the table has been formed: seating cards or couvert cards – small white bars of heavy paper with names of all the guests in script or printed.
There is seating plan on a small table in the hall, where guests are gathering. In strict accordance with this plan, each place is denoted with couvert card. Guests get acquainted with seating plan, find their places and check the names of neighborhood to the right and left. At the receptions with a lot of guests, special cards with statement of the place at the table are used.
To avoid mistakes in seating the precedence of guests is checked in protocol service or any other.
The following rules of seating are observed: the first seat  - is to the right hand of the mistress, the second – to the right hand of the man of the house; if there are no women, the first seat is to the right hand of the man of the house, the second – to the left hand of him; highly positioned guest should seat opposite man of the house, in this case the second seat will be to the right hand of the man of the house. If the mistress is absent, one of the women invited may seat on her place (if she doesn’t mind) or a man of the highest position. Woman does not seat next to woman, husband next to his wife, women do not sit at the ends of the table. Language skills of neighbors are considered. In the house of foreign diplomat the preference is given to local guests towards foreign diplomatic representatives and vice verse. After (or during) bilateral conference it is possible to seat one delegation opposite the other while breakfast, lunch or supper. Place of honor is near the entrance door, but if the door is sideways, then – the side of the table, which is exposed to front window. If it is necessary, interpreters may seat behind the guests.   
While menu making, one should consider tastes of guests, their national and religious traditions, etc. To include in menu wild game, while its hunting is forbidden or meat in banian days, or pork, when there are Moslems among guests, is considered bad style. Vegetarian dish  should be served for guest- vegetarian.
Exchange of toasts may take place at the official receptions. On breakfast, lunch or supper toasts are pronounced after dessert (when it is eaten by all the guests) and when all the guests have champagne in their glasses. At other types of reception toasts are pronounced not earlier than in 10-15 minutes after its beginning.
One should not pronounce toasts while entre at official breakfast, lunch or supper.
One may smoke while breakfast or lunch only after dessert. 
Arrangements for reception
In order the reception was well-organized, the scheme of its realization should be thought over beforehand. Time and place for meeting guests, time for inviting to the table, toasts proclamation is planned. Division of responsibilities for diplomatic personnel at the reception is composed (devoting attention to certain guests, surveillance over the audience). Sometimes at great receptions there is a parlor or separate place for the most outstanding guests, which should not be isolated from other guests. The man of the house should allow time to pay attention to all the guests.

Table setting. Behavior at the table.
For table setting one should invite skilled headwaiter or charge this to the able and experienced person. Congestion at the table is non-recommended. It leads to inconvenience both for guests and service staff. The table should be decorated with natural flowers if it is possible. At breakfast, lunch or supper all the dishes are served handily. Great importance is attached to knowing the rules of table settings and the course of instrumentation.
At diplomatic receptions different tableware is used, the main are:

  • Tablespoon for soup served in the plate; dessert-spoon (smaller than tablespoon) serves for porridge, soup in the cup, dessert, fruits;
  • teaspoon for thin dishes served in the cup, grapefruit, eggs and smoothie;
  • coffee spoon (half smaller than teaspoon) for coffee served in dobbin; long-handled spoon for  chilled tea and beverages served in tumblers.


  • big fork for dishing out from the large tray. It reminds big dinner fork in form, but oversized; big dinner fork for meat dishes; little fork for refreshments and desserts; fish fork for fish plate; fork for oysters, crabs, chilled fish cocktails. It is of small size: 15cm in length, width at the end – 1.5 cm.
  • fork for fruits. It is served in the end of dinner together with cup for fingers washing.


  • big dinner knife for meat dishes; little knife for refreshments and other dishes, except meat and fish;
  • fruit knife (with the same handle as fruit fork has) for fruits;
  • fish knife for separation fish bones;
  • butter knife serves only for butter pasting; dessert knife – for cheese, dessert and farinaceous dishes.

One should know that all the tableware are not used simultaneously.  That is why while table setting not more than three wares are used. Other knives, forks and spoons are served as and when necessary.
The seat at served table usually looks like: big plate, plate of smaller size for refreshments, a napkin in triangle or cap form. On the left hand of the plate there are forks (in accordance with sequence of plate service): small fork for refreshments, fish fork and big fork – for main course. On the right hand of the plate there is small knife for refreshments, table-spoon (if the soup is served), fish knife and big dinner knife.
Tableware lies one by one over a distance 1 cm and over the same distance from table edge, forks - turned-down, knives – with their edges to the plate.
To the left hand, aside on the plate, there is a monkey-dish for bread and butter knife on it. Fruit knives are served along with fruits.
To the right hand, obliquely to the plate, there is stemware for drinks (from left to right): water goblet, flute, white wine glass, a little smaller red wine glass and one more smaller for dessert wine. Such stemware order is explained that drinks are served from the right. On the highest wineglass there is a name card of a guest, for whom the place is.
Sometimes the range of stemware ends with balloon glass. It is put in the case when after breakfast (lunch) the guests are served with coffee at the table, i.e. they do not change the room. If brandy is served in special big glass with wide bottom, then it is poured in small portions.
On the receptions at Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian embassies there are small glasses for vodka, which is served with refreshments.
For dessert and fruits there is sometimes a spoon, knife or fork behind a glass – all these with handle turned to the right and with convex side to the table.
One begins to use tableware with that lying from the edge, than from the plate and holds them in the hand where they lied near plate. Knives, forks and spoons lying closer to the plate are used the last.
In most countries there is the following order of courses:
Are  eaten with the help of fork and small knife (so called small ware);
Soup, beef tea, tea with slices of bread, etc. If  soup is served in the plate, it should be eaten with soup spoon; if it is served in the cup, it should be eaten with dessert spoon, moreover when the soup is half eaten it may be drunken.
Fish dish
Is eaten with the help of fish ware, if there is no such, use forks.
Meat dish
Roast meat, beefsteak, etc are eaten using big ware.
It is eaten with the help of dessert forks and spoons. Special spoon is served with ice-cream.
Are eaten with the help of fruit ware; small spoons are served for stoned berries.
Coffee spoon is served.
The most common two types of service at the receptions:
“on table” – when all the dishes are on the table
“serve round” – the guests are served by waiters. Abroad this type is more common.
During such service, waiters come up to guests, fill glasses with water and other beverages, than serve dishes in the order stated in menu. Waiter starts with the lady sitting to the right hand of the man of the house. If there are two or more waiters, the service begins at both ends of the table.
Food, that guests should take themselves are served from the left hand. Guests place this food with the help of serving fork or spoon on their plates. Food is taken with spoon that is in the left hand holding it with a fork that is in the right hand. To use own forks or spoons is forbidden. One should take single serving of a dish as they may be cooked strictly in a number of guests.
Dishes served by waiter are brought from the right hand. It is not customary to start eating until the mistress starts. Moreover, men should wait until woman to right or left hand of him will start eating. In some countries it is common to say grace (silently). In this case all are sitting in silent and with heads bowed. Till the end of grace nobody starts eating.
During meals you should sit squarely and natural. Do not cross your legs under the table and put the elbows on the table. One should look up to the others, finish with dish in time in order not to restrain the table.
One must not aspire to make drunk all the guests, offering the toasts, which can not be declined out of courtesy.
When you need to take bread, glass, fork and knife should be put on the plate criss-crossed: knife – with its edge to the left, fork is placed above with its back up. The place of crossing should be at prongs and one third of a knife. Fork and knife also may be put with handle on the table and the other side in the plate.
During course the plates with used ware are taken away by waiters. In order waiter knew that the guest has finished with meal, knife and fork are put parallel on the plate with shafts to one side, a little to the right. Here, the fork should be with prongs up, knife- with edge inside.
At the end of dinner (after dessert and fruits) special plates with a slice of lemon for washing hands may be served.
Finger-ends are dipped in this water, and then you should dry them with a napkin. As soon as everybody finished with meal, mistress stands up and all the guests do the same. Men help women to leave the table, setting their chairs back. With mistress and honoured guest in the head, all the guests go from dining-room to the hall, where coffee, brandy and lace are served. Responsibilities of men towards their neighbors are finished in the hall.
Before leaving lunch (supper) the guests say goodbye to mistress and man of the house, thank for dinner (supper), but not for the tasty food.
Clothes at receptions
Personal appearance is of great importance. Usually dress code is stated in the invitation. If dress code is stated (official character of reception is emphasized), then officers wear formal military, civilians - evening wear (tail coat, dinner jacket), women – evening dress.
If there is no dress code in the invitation, one should observe the following rules.
For men
Suit. For breakfast, cocktail and other types of reception that start from 8 p.m., one may wear a suit of any soft color, if only the reception is not in honor of  national holiday or  Head of state or Minister of Foreign Affairs.
It is recommended to wear dark colored  suit at the receptions held on the occasion of national holiday, in honor or on behalf of the head of the state, government or Minister of Foreign Affairs and also at the receptions that start at 8 p.m.
The suit should always be clean and ironed.
In the cases when dinner jacket should be put on, it is stated in the invitation (cravate noir, black tie).
If tail coat should be put on, it is also stated in the invitation (cravate sagc, white tie).
Shirt and tie. White shirt with starched or roll collar and tie of any but not high color should be put on. One should avoid coloured shirt, especially woven nylon and also black ties. Black tie is put on only when mourning.
Socks. They should not be loud-coloured. Black or grey are the most common.
Shoes. Black low ankle boots are recommended. When summer time colored shoes may be combined with light-colored suit. To wear sandals is not customary. Patent leather shoes may be worn only with dinner jacket. Shoes must be shiny.
Hat. Depending on the season, light-coloured hats are worn in spring and summer, dark-colored in autumn and winter. During the late evening dark-colored hat should be put on. One should not wear velour hat and black hats with suit or coat of another color. It should be marked that fashion in business world spreads no so quickly as among Bohemians. That is why businessmen do not keep to fashion but defined level. Sound conservatism is an attribute of good courtesy.
For women.
Women should wear classical clothes with modest lines and of moderate tone.
For breakfast, tea or cocktail one should wear dress of common length, suit-dress or suit, small felt, silk or other material hat, which should not be put off during reception. Mistress do not wear hat.
At receptions, which start at 8 p.m. and later, evening dress (more elegant) should be put on. Evening dresses may be of common length and floor-skimming. Recently there is a tendency to wear floor-skimming evening dresses. Hat is not common for evening dress.
Shoes. Leather or chamois shoes with heels should be put on.  Sport shoes or shoes with crepe or rubber sole are not allowed.
Gloves and handbag. At the reception starting till 8 p.m. one may wear silk, cloth or kid gloves. Handbag may be made of leather or chamois.
Silk, lace and other gloves may be put on with evening dress and the shorter dress arm, the longer gloves and vice versa. Small handbag of silk, gold-cloth or bedazzler.
Dress material for women. Color and density of the material should correspond to season and weather conditions: in summer light materials are used, in winter – dark and close materials.
For receptions till 8 p.m. wool, silk ad other materials may be used. For evening dress – silk, taffeta or gold-cloth may be used.
One should not wear a lot of jewelry at the receptions.
Woman enjoys more freedom in choosing the style of clothing, material and color then a man, the clothes of which is often uniform. This allows woman to pick such style of clothing that will correspond to her individual tastes and stature. Herein should be mentioned that the style of one’s clothing should accentuate good features and correct drawbacks.
The main rule while choosing clothes is time and place conforming. That is why it is not common to take in guests or during visit at day time wear sumptuous clothes. It is enough to have dainteth dress-suit on.
Casual day dress for reception is skimpy dress of classical style, high-necked dress with small neckline and 3/4 length or long sleeves. Material may be of any color, smooth or embossing.
Day-time dress of high quality material (silk, wool, etc) are used for receptions “a la fourchette” from 5 till 8 p.m.
Evening dress (one more time more precise).
Usually evening dress is more elegant then the dress for day-time reception. It may be of common length and also long. Evening dress may be sewed of silk, lace, crape, etc. The main rule is rather simple: the more ceremonial and official reception and the later it is held, the more elegant you should look. One should not overuse perfume and deodorant.
Evening shoes (one more time more precise).
Going-out shoe may be of colored leather, weight silk, gold-cloth and other materials. Handbag should be small, sometimes it is made of the same color with shoes leather, sometimes of bedazzler or silk.
Clothes is businessman’s “business card”, because while meeting partners pay attention to clothes first of all. Initial impression remains in memory for a long time. That is why disregard to own appearance is an unforgettable error. For example, neatness in clothes often associates with organized nature of business, skill to value time. Untidiness is the synonym of fussiness and obliviousness.
Today the most common businessmen’s clothes is suit.  Business etiquette provides several ways of suit wearing.

  • If you wear suit, you should wear a tie. Exception is hacking jacket, which may be even put on the T-shirt. But it does not belong to business clothes. It is impossible to wear double-breasted coat without tie.
  • Shirt put on with jacket must be with long sleeves. It is concidered elegant if its cuffs may be seen from sleeves of jacket approximately 1.5 – 2 cm. It is better to choose the shirt without lapel pockets.
  • One should exclude the rear apron to be seen from the front apron. The tie should touch with its end the buckle.
  • One should never wear suit and sport shoes simultaneously. Such clothes are incompatible in their nature.
  • Having put on the suit, do not take the bag of sport type. It is desirable to carry paper and necessities in diplomat or brief case.
  • One should not show himself during business hours. During usual communication to wear suit is considered to be good courtesy.
  • One should not wear too light suits. The most common colors: dark navy, dark gray, black.
  • Do not wear colorful shirts.
  • Do not wear too bright-colored ties with loud pattern. A tie should be lighter then suit and darker then the shirt.
  • Avoid mismatches of figures on your clothes.
  • Always wear socks of dark colors.

Some rules:

  • Wear light suits at day-time, dark – in the evening. Evening suit matches with a tie of natural or artificial silk.
  •  In formal setting a jacket should be buttoned. The jacket may be unbuttoned while evening meal or in the theatre. Standing up, one should button the jacket on the upper button.
  • One should always keep holiday wear in perfect order. This also concerns shoes, socks and collar buttons.
  • One should not keep up with fashion. It is better to look non-stylish but well, then to look stylish and bad.  
  • Have two handkerchiefs (minimum). The first “working” should be placed in the trousers pocket. The second one – always squeaky clean – in the inside pocket of jacket.

Poise, as well as neat clothes, courteous treatment while communication, tactfulness are the ways to show respect to other people. Habits play significant role in behavioral pattern. They may accentuate good points and bring to naught all the good features as well.
Sometimes person acts unnaturally. Naturalness is one of the features of businessman’s behaviour, as an attempt to look differently is notable. Gestures and movements are the part of image. Often happens that gesture shows person’s mood and face even when he does not want that. Movements should not be harsh and rapid. While communication one should not depress his eyes for a long time and sit in relaxed pose. You may relax during leisure time, but during business hours one should be well groomed.
Sitting on the seat, one should not wiggle and seat at the brink. It is not also recommended to lean the elbows on the table. Sit and stand up one must do softly. Chair is not moved along the floor, it is shifted taking by the back. Such habits as reflexive leg swaying, shifting in chair, tapping with a heel are undesirable. Such behavior may be perceived as disinterest to talk, etc.
While talking it is better to sit squarely, do not lean or recline. The most common posture for businesswoman is: knees together, foot one near another, shanks turned obliquely. It is impossible to hold up the head while communication. It may denote boredom or weariness. Crossing of arms is acceptable, but this gesture is perceived as discontent or desire to stop communication. Lifted shoulders or indrawn head mean tension and make an impression of secretiveness. To prepossess someone to talk, you should incline your head on one side. This gives the impression of being all ears. You should not do the thing that may be estimated as footdragging (smoking a cigarette, sponging of glasses). This looks like an attempt to avoid the answer.





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