About the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is located in Western Europe, northwest of France between the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. It is not very large, about the size of Oregon and is home to over 60 million people.
The UK is made up of four distinct regions – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, making it very culturally and ethnically diverse. It may seem that everyone in the UK could be called English, but many people in the UK, especially those in Wales and Scotland may be offended by this. The term “English” refers to natives of England and “British” to citizens of Great Britain.
The majority of people in the UK speak English, but many areas have strong local accents and even dialects which may be difficult to understand. In Wales, Welsh is the language of choice – a Celtic language similar to Gaelic. Welsh is also spoken in some areas of Scotland.
Business dress in the UK is very conservative – dark colors, such as black, navy blue and charcoal are very popular as are heavier fabrics such as wool.
Tips for Men
o Avoid dress shirts with pockets and if they do have pockets, they should be kept empty. The only exception to this is a handkerchief.
o Ties with stripes should not be worn as the pattern may “belong” to a club, military regiment or school of which you are not a member.
o Wear shoes that lace, not those that slip on such as loafers.
Tips for Women
Business dress for women in the UK is not as limited as men’s but a conservative appearance is still important.
Most offices in the UK are open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. However, most employees work longer hours as they prefer to complete their work at the office instead of bringing it home.
Government offices are open from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm and are closed for lunch from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm.
The best time of day to make an appointment is in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Breakfast and lunch meetings tend to be rare – outside of major cities.
The UK has only eight national holidays a year, the lowest number in Europe. Most families with children will take annual vacations in July or August and the majority of businesses are closed between Christmas and New Years.
Conversations and Behavior
Many people in the UK are private and reserved – finding it difficult to engage in small talk with strangers. Beginning a meeting with a handshake is customary and a formal greeting is viewed as a sign of respect.
The English have very good manners and they view Americans as too casual, especially in speech. Be sure to speak clearly, in complete sentences and keep your speech at an even tone. Avoid animated conversations and a lot of hand gestures.