The way people greet each other when they meet for the first time varies from culture to culture. In some cultures, people bow, and in others, they shake hands. How one shakes hands sends an important message about one’s character. In English-speaking countries, shaking hands is the custom. If done properly, a handshake gives the impression of strength and honesty, and if done improperly, it conveys weakness and dishonesty. A proper handshake has four ingredients: pressure, pumps, eye contact, and verbal message. Mr. X went to Mexico from England to manage a milk pasteurization plant. For eight months, he tried every way possible to convince his workers of the importance of punctuality and of checking every detail of their work. The response was always, “Yes, yes, we will do our best,” but nothing ever changed. Then one day an impressive new pasteurization unit arrived and was installed. To celebrate the occasion, Mr. X decided to throw a big party at the plant. The employees did most of the planning and draped the new unit with garlands. During the party one of Mr. X’s supervisors took him aside and said, “Now we see that you are Buena gente; from now on I am sure everyone will really try to do their best for you.” And so it was – neither punctuality nor quality checks were any longer needed. The party was great success, and everybody had a good time. This story illustrates the need to understand that doing business in a different culture demands an understanding of the culture. In 1976, an earthquake in Tangshan, China, killed over 250,000 people. Iran suffered more than 80,000 deaths in two massive quakes in 1990 and 2003. In an average year, earthquakes kill 10,000 people worldwide and cause millions of dollars worth of property damage. Scientist keep trying to find ways to predict earthquakes – so far without much success. Currently under study are four main methods for predicting when and where the next Big One will occur.
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