Canadian Business Etiquette 101

Play by the Canadian Rules of the Game

Written by Oxana Tsirelman, Online Editor

Toronto-Dominion Centre by OliverN5 (Flickr)


The cultural rules of North American business are simple and finite; any business guru and amateur is familiar them. After all, they are the foundation of how we conduct business with other countries and their effectiveness explains why we are successful in our business relations and transactions.

Ukrainian historian Valentyn Moroz points out that Canadians typically conduct business with the utmost grace and that they are “especially appreciative of those who maintain politeness and an adherence to protocol. Canadians may appear reserved, but tend to warm quickly to newcomers, establishing an informal and easygoing manner once a more familiar relationship is created.”

Furthermore, Canadians prefer to keep their business dealings as direct as possible. Cockiness and flaunting are looked down upon, even viewed suspiciously. Of course, it goes without saying that punctuality is crucial to reputation and building mutual trust. After all, if you’re late for a business meeting, your business counterpart will start getting negative ideas. Punctuality is also important for proceedings to run smoothly and on schedule.

[pullquote]Canada is a cultural mosaic and adheres to British practises that have accumulated over the past 200 years[/pullquote]Canadian business meetings are also more democratic as efforts are made to reach a consensus between all parties involved. Parties are always encouraged to make their thoughts known and are pushed to play fair. Patience is a similarly important factor of the business deal. Moroz explains: “business negotiations are likely to end in a plan of action, but the decision process is not hurried. Be patient, as it may take some time to receive the green light on a project’s go ahead.”

The consideration of language is also a crucial aspect as Canadian business dealings. Although English is spoken by most Canadian people, French is the nation’s other official language, and is predominantly spoken in Quebec, Ottawa and New Brunswick. So, if you’re planning on doing business with French Canadians, you better brush up on your French and preparing your materials in both English and French. It’s also useful to ask about your business partners’ language preference prior to your interaction. Otherwise, you may safely assume that English is the preferred language of communication.

Another important thing to bear in mind when doing business with Canadians is that Canada is a cultural mosaic and adheres to British practises that have accumulated over the past 200 years. This country has opened and continues to open its arms to a multitude of new immigrants, who have brought their customs with them into Canada. These new cultures include European, Asian and American. Each of those races enriched the nation with their customs and traditions, which have been woven into its existing Anglo and Franco roots.

ARB Team
Arbitrage Magazine
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