In China, Korea, Russia and Poland, among others, prepare to spend time outside the office with colleagues and hosts throwing back drinks. Social drinking is a major part of local culture, including business. Binge drinking also is widespread in the United Kingdom, both countries densely populated with pubs.
Hosts feel responsible to show visitors a good time, which in these cultures is often synonymous with drinking. You will also often find hosts in these countries eager to share and insist you take part in local drinking customs and local liquors and spirits, such as tequila in Mexico, soju in Korea or vodka in Poland and Russia.
“Drinking, in some cultures, is also a bonding activity — a way for an international clients to get to know you better and to see the ‘real’ you,” Whitmore said.
Refusing alcohol outright in these countries has the potential to negatively influence business dealings, said Jan Jaap van Weering, an etiquette, manners and protocol trainer based in the Netherlands. It can also make you appear judgmental to your hosts. Still, if you cannot drink or are adverse to it, Whitmore recommends offering a medical excuse — a legitimate and respected way out, regardless of the country you’re working in. (Getty)