Business meetings are largely considered a key element of corporate communication on the British Isles. They can vary in style, but they’re nevertheless a crucial component in the United Kingdom’s business world. In this article, we’d like to introduce you to a few important cultural characteristics with regard to meetings in Great Britain.
Many British people tend to use meetings as opportunities to exchange ideas, which is why they often refrain from preparing extensively for them. Most meetings are centered on discussion in Great Britain. Examining certain situations from different angles and exploring a variety of possibilities are the main focus.
Discussions can quickly become a bit heated, which is why we recommend handling open verbal conflict with extreme restraint. You could almost say there’s a ban on communicative confrontation. When it comes to differences of opinion, a pleasant atmosphere is particularly important to most British people, so coded speech is advisable during debates. Criticism comes in many forms – for instance, through a lack of positive feedback. In the end, saying nothing is also a statement.
Punctuality is considered a common courtesy in the United Kingdom. Special seating arrangements are normally not necessary. Innocuous small talk often plays an important role, so we recommend making it the first and last thing you do in every meeting. British meetings also tend to follow agendas, although the fixed sequence of topics is not always strictly followed. People instead see where the exchange of ideas takes them, which allows them to remain flexible. The focus predominantly stays on the mutual development of new, creative ideas and a rough plan.
ONE MEETING = ONE DECISION?
The goal of most meetings is to make decisions. Necessary tasks are then assigned to relevant participants, and all steps are documented in black and white. Yet this is not necessarily to be expected on the British Isles. The exchange of ideas is often continued at another place after the meeting, and the supervisor only announces a decision or result after more rounds of discussion. Changes are naturally to be expected.
One more tip to wrap things up: stay flexible! Not all British people behave the same way. This means that you’ll find the aforementioned cultural characteristics play out not in every single situation or with every single person, but definitely with the majority.
If you’re interested in other topics such as business trips, project work and negotiations with foreign partners, then we recommend taking one of our cross-cultural trainings, which cover more than 80 different target countries.