Nancy MitchellNancy R. Mitchell is an established protocol and etiquette consultant and advisor with more than 30 years of experience in the field. Currently, she is an adjunct faculty member at George Washington University, where she developed and teaches protocol courses to Event Management Certificate Program students in the School of Business and Public Management, and at Stratford University, Falls Church, VA. She serves also as protocol and special events consultant to the Library of Congress, the world’s largest library and cultural center. For 23 years, Mitchell was Director of Special Events and Public Programs at the Library of Congress where she and her staff were responsible for planning and managing over 400 events each year. She coordinated the institution’s major special events, visits of heads of state and other foreign dignitaries, fundraising galas, conferences and meetings. As the Library’s chief protocol advisor, she served as liaison to the White House, U.S Department of State, the Congress, the Supreme Court and other government agencies, foreign embassies, academia and corporations. Mitchell owns The Etiquette Advocate, Inc., a firm providing etiquette and protocol training to corporations, universities, embassies, government agencies, non-profit organizations and individuals. She is the etiquette consultant to Engaged! magazine, has been featured on Good Morning America, Fox 5 News, WTOP Radio and National Public Radio, and is quoted on matters of etiquette and protocol by the New York Times, Washington Business Journal, and the Washington Post. She is a co-owner of the firm, Protocol Partners-Washington Center for Protocol, Inc., and is a member of the Protocol and Diplomacy International Protocol Officers Association and the Women Business Owners of Montgomery Country (MD).
Host: What are some general gift guidelines for international friends, colleagues, or clients?
Nancy Mitchell: Because we exist in a global economy, every business large and small may have occasion, when they are working with people from other countries. They may travel to those countries or they maybe working by telephone or by e-mail, working virtually with people all over the world. It is time that people in especially the North American business environment raise their awareness of cultural differences.
When it comes time to gift giving, it is a mind field, there are certain things you must avoid or you will offend or embarrass the person who is receiving the gift you have chosen for them. Think about doing some research, you have let us say a client in China, the gift that would select for someone in China is going to be totally different than the person you may be getting a gift to in Guatemala. Think about doing some research, finding out do not embarrass yourself, do not embarrass them.
The religion of a country, the symbols, the customs, the courtesies of the country are going to play into the success of the gift that you choose and the way you present it, the way you wrap it, when you send it, all of those things are so different from country to country, you need to do some research and find out so you will not make a mistake.