Don’t put your foot in it, Mr. President

Watching the beginning of the Olympics, I was surprised to see the way President Bush was sitting.

The First Lady was on one side of him (thankfully) and a Chinese looking gentleman was on the other side. The President had his right foot resting on his left knee, thereby exposing his shoe sole. That is a huge “no no” in Asia and the Middle East.

As I said, thankfully the First Lady, Laura Bush was the recipient of the President’s sole-waving but it made me wonder if he changed legs at a later stage and “flashed” the Chinese official. I figure it was a high ranking official or else he would hardly be sat next to the President of the United States.

What has this to do with security? It is one of the topics we teach to our budding bodyguards during our intensive Executive Protection course in the United States and abroad. You could have a very successful business meeting or trip, either overseas or at home, but ruin it by insulting (albeit unintentionally)a foreign guest. It is very important for those wroking around forein nationals to be aware of their customs and traditions.

This is not that difficult these days with all of the materials available. One of the best books I have found is; “Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands”. This book and others like it, will advise the reader on the correct course of action to take when dealing with people from a host of different countries. Not that I expect the President to read the book, afterall, he must have Protocol officers to keep an eye on him. My question is, were they brought to China?

For the rest of us who are not lucky enough to have our own Protocol officers to keep us out of trouble, we’ll just have to read the book.

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