Impeccable business behavior
a matter of dollars and sense
- By Gregory Potts, Business Writer
In international business relations, etiquette can make or break a deal.
And the rules of proper behavior are different in every part of the world.
That's why Gloria Auth is becoming a full-time etiquette and protocol trainer for the business community.
Auth, the director of the master's of business administration program at the University of Central Oklahoma, recently received certification as a corporate etiquette and international protocol consultant from the Protocol School of Washington.
Auth will teach a course on the topic at UCO between the fall and spring semesters. After she retires this spring, she will dedicate herself full-time to consulting and training businesses that trade internationally. In the meantime, she is available only on a limited basis.
Auth said that in many places Americans have a reputation as being loud and lacking in refinement.
"The demand (for etiquette and protocol training) is growing because people are growing more aware that there are problems here," Auth said. "As you know, we are perceived as the 'ugly American.'"
It is not just a matter of etiquette for it's own sake. It's a matter of dollars and sense.
"It can really cost businesses money," Auth said.
Auth pointed out several common mistakes people make.
For instance, Americans are much quicker than people from other cultures to address new acquaintances on a first-name basis. Auth said another mistake is for a company to send a lower-ranked corporate officer to meet with a higher-level officer at a client company.
Dorothea Johnson, director of the Protocol School of Washington, has been offering etiquette instruction for 40 years. She believes the interest in etiquette is higher than it's ever been, largely because of the increase in global trade.
Classes for executives, such as her own titled "Outclass the Competition," are badly needed, she said.
"We're seeing 40-year old executives making hundreds of thousands of dollars, and their social skills are very poor," Johnson said.
Auth said she is aware of very little competition in Oklahoma for her services. The etiquette instructors in Oklahoma focus mostly on cotillion-style training for young people.
Auth plans to focus her services on corporate clients and will offer half-day, one-day or two-day seminars.
Another resource for etiquette consultation is Priscilla Harris, protocol representative at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. Harris said no other state commerce department in the nation has a protocol specialist on staff.
Her main job is to arrange meetings and provide briefings for state officials traveling overseas and those hosting overseas visitors. The briefings can include cultural and etiquette information, current events or other information pertaining to a visitor's country.
Harris is also available to answer questions and offer tips to businesses in the state. She said she often gets questions about what kind of gift is appropriate for an overseas contract.
Harris first gained expertise in international relations as a staff in the Tulsa mayor's office, where she managed the Tulsa sister cities program
Harris said she expects Auth's services will be well received.
"I think there will be plenty of opportunities for her." Harris said.
The Sunday Oklahoman - Business - Sunday, October 29, 2000
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