One of the things that can take a little getting used to when doing business overseas is the amount of officials you run into who expect to have their palm greased before doing anything. Technically, American law doesn’t allow businesses to practice the fine art of palm greasing, although I’m sure that there are some companies who do.
Personally, I don’t believe in paying bribes. So, I’ve had to come up with other strategies when dealing with foreign officialdom. Let me share a few of them with you:
- Be sure to have your paperwork in order – The one thing that best gives these guys the opportunity to try and get a little bribe money from you is when your paperwork is not in order. They’ll try and stall, waiting for you to offer them, or hint at offering them money to take care of it. If all your Is are dotted and your Ts are crossed, they can’t use this leverage.
- Give yourself extra time – Most of the world doesn’t move at the same high-velocity that we do here in the United States. This is another trick that these officials use to get into your pocket. They know that if you’re in a rush, all they have to do is stall. But, they can only stall so long; giving yourself a few extra days can prevent this tactic.
- Develop a relationship with the officials you see regularly – Officials are much less likely to hold you up if you’re a friend. Talk and joke with them; buy them a lunch or a cup of coffee; talk about their family and yours. Being known as a good guy goes a long way.
- Stand your ground – While bribery is the norm throughout much of the world, it’s also illegal in most countries. A transit cop who’s threatening to ticket you for improper turn-signal usage, is much less likely to play his game if you ask to see his credentials.
While I can’t guarantee that these steps will totally solve the problem, they’ve worked pretty well for me. Give it a try.