Are you culturally sensitive?

Intercultural Quiz

1. You are about to give a speech in Germany. Dr. Hans Gerhardt, the moderator, is a personal friend. Before you launch into your presentation you say:

a) Thank you Hans for that complimentary introduction
b) Thank you Herr Doctor Gerhardt, for that kind introduction.
c) Thanks Gerry.

2. In a London-based meeting with your Bulgarian client, you ask your client if you can take him out for lunch. He smiles and then shakes his head as if he is not interested after all. What is going on?

a) He isn’t hungry but smiles shaking his head so as not to offend you.
b) In Bulgaria head shaking has opposite meaning. He is very happy to accept the invitation
c) Like most business people in Bulgaria he does not eat lunch and shakes his head to show it.

3. If you are ten minutes late for a meeting, in which of these countries could you risk losing a prospective client?

a) Germany 
b) England
c) Portugal

4. You are in Hamburg for an important meeting with your German distributor. Your newly promoted counterpart is Frau Stern. You are taken to lunch, and wanting to make a good impression, you hold open the door to the restaurant to allow Frau Stern to enter before you. However, as she enters she laughs a little, while the maitre d' frowns at you. What did you do wrong?

a) German women always open the door themselves. 
b) You should have booked a table 
c) In German restaurants

5. Which of these countries is most relaxed about using first names on first meeting?

a) Denmark 
b) Sweden 
c) England

6. You are flying out to Japan on behalf of your company to sign a first contract with your new distributor and are planning to bring a second person on the trip. Who will you choose?
a) Your new PA 
b) Your female colleague who has been working on the deal with you.
c) Your boss, a white male in his 50s

7. In which of these countries is it not considered rude to avoid shaking hands on meeting?

a) England
b) Hungary 
c) Spain

8. You are invited to your French client for dinner and his wife is cooking. You are not sure if and what you should bring anything. Which of the following would be appropriate?

a) Some flowers for her 
b) Nothing. In France you normally don’t give presents at dinners.
c) Your business file as there are a few unclear matters you would like to discuss.

9. Which of the three country combinations will work better together?

a) The Swedes and the French
b) The Italians and the Germans
c) The Estonians and the English

10. Which of the following nationalities do not like poking fun at themselves?

a) Ireland
b) Britain
c) Spain

11. Your Norwegian distributor has emailed you to ask you about the signing of the contract and when you would like it returned. You tell him you would be delighted to receive it “at his earliest convenience”. After a week you still haven’t received it. What is going on?

a) The distributor has taken offence and believes you are no longer interested because you haven’t given a clear deadline. 
b) The distributor has taken your words literally and will send it when it suits him.
c) The distributor has taken offence and believes you are too busy to care your about your deal.

12. In which of the following foreign countries can you most easily use English for exporting purposes?

a) France
b) Germany
c) Iceland

13. You have gone to Russia to meet your business client. After two long working days you are invited to spend the weekend at your client’s dacha together with him and some friends. You feel exhausted and doubtful. What should you do?

a) You pull yourself together and go as socialising is an important part of Russian business life.
b) You decide to tell your client that you really are too tired and don’t go.
c) You decide to fly home thereby ‘avoiding’ any embarrassing excuses.

14. You and your team have arrived to negotiate an important deal in La Paz, Bolivia. The head of the Bolivian team, whom you met for the first time in London last month, comes straight up to you and embraces you in front of your entire team. He subsequently stands so close to you and touches you all the time while speaking to you. You begin to feel more and more uncomfortable and simply want the meeting to end. What's going on?

a) The Bolivian is unsure of your attitude and is desperately trying to make friends.
b) The Bolivian feels very comfortable and is behaving in his warm Latin way. 
c) The Bolivian mistakenly believes this is your country’s behaviour.

15. In which country could you risk offending your business partner if you cross your legs in a relaxed style opposite him?

a) France 
b) Latvia
c) Saudi Arabia

16. After the negotiations have finished in Iran, food is put on the table and when your host asks you to help yourself you gladly oblige and start filling your plate. To your surprise he frowns and takes offence. What have you done wrong?

a) You have offended him by not refusing a few times before accepting his invite.
b) Your are putting so much food on your plate, the host fears there will be nothing left for him.
c) You have offended him by not letting him fill his plate first.

17. When is it good manners to leave after a business dinner in Mexico?

a) Soon afterwards
b) After 2 hours of polite chatting
c) Not before midnight

18. You meet your British business partner outside his hotel in London for the first time. It is minus 4 and you are both wearing gloves. Do you:

a) Remove a glove to shake his hand?
b) Shake his hand leaving the glove on?
c) Avoid shaking his hand altogether?

19. In a negotiation meeting in Tokyo you have waited in silence for Hugi-san's response to your offer. The silence becomes very uncomfortable and in frustration you offer a 15% reduction in price. Hugi-san closes his eyes and makes a deep sucking sound through his teeth. This is followed by more silence. What is happening?

a) The Japanese business man is not happy because he wants an even lower price.
b) The Japanese business man feels you are unreliable because you lowered your price again.
c) The Japanese business man is happy with your new low offer and shows this by a the hissing sound.

20. You are buying flowers for your German business partner and his wife. You have a choice of three bunches. Which one should you choose?

a) three white flowers
b) five red flowers
c) seven mixed colours



1) B - Formality rules in German business settings. Never call Hans by his first name at work.
2) B - In Bulgaria head shaking has the opposite meaning. The Bulgarian client will be delighted to have lunch with you.
3) A - Being late is seen as lack of respect towards the ‘client’.
4) C - In German restaurants the man would open the door and enter first.
5) C - Scandinavians are initially formal when first making your acquaintance
6) C – Although Japanese society is opening up to women climbing the career ladder, tradition is still very strong. The fact that the white male is your boss enhances the prospect of a prosperous relationship with the Japanese company.
7) A – The British are relaxed about hand shaking and don’t see it as offensive if avoided.
8) A – It is appropriate to bring something for the wife and maybe even some chocolates.
9) C – The Estonians and English will form the best partnership of the groups suggested. The Swedish and French differ in their communication ways both verbally and in gestures. Whereas a Swede would very rarely interrupt, a French person would find it acceptable. The Italians and Germans differ both in terms of communicating and in their perception of time. This is also noticeable in written communication. The English and Estonians are both flexible in nature and willing to communicate in English.
10) C - The Spanish do not appreciate any form of satire about themselves.
11) B – The Norwegian client has taken your word for it and will send it when he finds the time.
12) C – Iceland. English is by far the most common foreign language in Iceland.
13) A – You pull yourself together and join your business partner for the weekend. Anything else would be seen as an insult.
14) B – In Latin America the spatial distance between two people communicating is shorter than in most European countries. What you perceive as uncomfortable he sees as perfectly normal.
15) C – Risking showing even part of your shoe soles to a business partner in Saudi Arabia would be unwise as it is perceived as offensive.
16) A – It is part of the common culture to refuse an invitation to eat and drink a couple of times before finally accepting the invitation.
17) A – Soon afterwards
18) B – Shake his hand leaving the glove on. In British business culture you don’t need to remove your glove.
19) B – Patience is part of the Japanese negotiation process. By continuously changing the price you are seen as vacillating and unreliable.
20) C – Seven mixed flowers. It is always safer to choose various different colours so as to avoid any unintended embarrassment.

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