Events & Speaking

The Annual Protocol Conference for Africa 2011 – A Learning Opportunity

By Lanie Denslow
World Wise Intercultural Training & Resources

“Greet people, use their correct titles.  Learn about our cultures and traditions.  Respect views of others and don’t impose your own.”

These statements are advice from attendees at the second Annual Protocol Conference for Africa (APCA) responding to the question:  What should Americans know when coming to do business in your country?  That query was an exercise during the “Working with Americans” session that I presented at the conference.  Because American businesses increasingly identify the countries of Africa as potential markets, providing insights to the unique American business culture was considered a timely topic for the program.

After discussing specific aspects of the American approach to doing business, we turned to the question above.  While the list of replies was varied and lengthy, the statements above were most frequently mentioned and serve as valuable insights for all of us. (For the complete list and the Tips for Working with Americans highlighting the American approach to business, click here)

The varied sessions of the conference provided useful and interesting information, however, it was time spent with the other attendees that made the APCA memorable.   With participants from nine different countries (Fiona and I were the only two from the United States) we were reminded that while traditions and protocol details may vary, the goal for protocol officers around the world is the same.  We all strive to create situations where relationships can be developed, opportunities explored, decisions made that may move us toward a more peaceful world.

Lanie Denslow