When I was in graduate school, there was this guy who had a habit of putting his hands where they didn’t belong. Many of my female classmates would make excuses for him, saying he was from [anywhere but here], and he just didn’t understand personal space.

Fast forward to the business world, where I see some of the same excuses being made.

Just the other day, one colleague was lamenting that a company had dropped new tasks into the negotiated contract–but not increased the budget. Another colleague told me that a prospect kept asking for business advice but wasn’t ready to make a buying decision. Each suggested the challenge had to do with how different cultures communicate.

Huh?

Show me a culture where people expect to work for free–and then let’s talk.

People can only take advantage of you if you let them. Whether you’re from Mississippi, Montana, or Mozambique, there’s a right way and a wrong way to behave–in your personal sphere and in business.

If someone’s pulling your chain, call them on it. Or, better yet, do business with someone else.

Photo by Julian Burgess (Flickr).