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Negotiating is essential when doing business. Here are a few tips on how to deal with Canadians to increase your chance of success! 

According to Forbes, Canada is the second-best country in the G20 to do business and it is an appealing place to invest, work and live. Before doing business in Canada you should learn about the culture and how to deal with Canadians by reducing communication noise. 


  • Shake hands firmly upon greeting and leaving.
  • Hello is a common greeting for English-speaking people. In the French parts of Quebec, the handshake should be a little bit less firm, and Bonjour is appropriate; exchanging light kisses on each cheek is typical.
  • First names are not typically used in business situations, except by close friends.
  • Use business cards printed in both French and English for French-speaking clients.


  • Canadians like to talk about the history, culture, and geography of their individual province and of Canada as a whole.
  • Canadians are sports-minded. Ice hockey is the most popular sport. Baseball, basketball, skiing, also have large followings.
  • Try to become familiar with the Canadian political system, geography, and current events. Also recognize that Canada is the biggest trading partner of the United States.
  • Most Canadians speak English, and many speak French. French-speaking associates will appreciate your efforts to speak French.
  • Good eye contact is usually considered to be direct eye contact for perhaps five to seven seconds, with breaks of two or three seconds. This sustained eye contact is perceived as a sign of interest, sincerity, and truthfulness.


  • Don’t behave in any way that might be perceived as condescending. If you are from the United States, be aware that Canadians are sometimes conscious about being ‘‘talked down to’’ by Americans.
  • Avoid making comparisons with the United States. Canadians are proud of their accomplishments and independence.

Key Negotiating Pointers

  • Canadians tend to be restrained in their negotiating style, keeping their emotions in check. Don’t come on too strong. Hard sells do not work well in Canada.
  • Make prior appointments and be punctual.
  • Be friendly, but get to the point in your discussions.
  • Etiquette is important. Perhaps due to their British and French heritage, Canadians tend to be patient and genteel.
  • Expect the pace of negotiations to be quite fast in the larger cities, such as Toronto or Montreal, and a bit slower in the Western provinces, where the atmosphere is more friendly and relaxed.
  • Focus attention on your counterparts in top management.
  • Expect your counterpart to ask you to split the difference, a common tactic by Canadian sellers when asking the buyer to pay more.
  • Leave yourself ample room to make concessions. Canadians tend to have high initial demands as both buyers and sellers.
  • Canadians tend to make concessions in a deescalating pattern—generous at first, then tapering off.
  • Respect deadlines. The Canadians are time-conscious.
  • Expect detailed and lengthy contracts.
  • Be sure to translate documents into French for French-speaking associates.

Day-to-Day Pointers

Business Entertainment Guidelines

  • Business entertainment normally takes place in restaurants or clubs.
  • Dinner is usually the business meal, served between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m., and often continuing for two or three hours.
  • Dress well for dining in restaurants: usually a coat and tie for men, and dresses or nice pants for women.
  • Cheers is the traditional toast in most situations. In French-speaking areas, use Sante (To your health).
  • If you are invited to a private home, bring an inexpensive gift or flowers or send flowers to your host.

Table Manners and Food

  • In French-speaking areas, keep your hands (but not elbows) above the table.
  • Place your utensils together on the plate when finished eating.
  • The Canadian cuisine reflects its multicultural heritage. In the Western provinces, there is fish, beef, Pacific salmon, ethnic dishes, and a variety of foods. In Quebec, there is a definite French influence, with pea soup, meat pies, French pastries and breads, cheese, and lamb. In Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, the most important foods are fish, lobster, and crabs.

Gender Issues

  • International businesswomen will be in a comfortable business climate in Canada.
  • Canadian women make up almost half of the workforce, and occupy key professional and managerial positions.

Also Remember This . . .

  • Canada has one of the strongest economies in the world, and is the United States’ largest trading partner.
  • Canada is the second largest country in the world, after Russia.
  • Canada is a leading supplier of gold, silver, copper, uranium, oil, natural gas, agriculture, and wood pulp.
  • More than a third of Canada’s population lives in Ontario.


How to Negotiate Anything with Anyone Anywhere Around the World – Frank L. Acuff (3rd Edition, 2008)



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