First international business trip raises culture questions
DEAR ABBY: I’m worried for my son. He’s going on his first business trip in January — to Japan. He doesn’t drink alcohol. (He’s not an alcoholic; it’s his personal choice.) His bosses, who do business there frequently, are now telling him that the Japanese will not do business with you ...
DEAR ABBY: I’m worried for my son. He’s going on his first business trip in January — to Japan. He doesn’t drink alcohol. (He’s not an alcoholic; it’s his personal choice.) His bosses, who do business there frequently, are now telling him that the Japanese will not do business with you unless you drink with them first. Can you find out if this is true? And if it is, what can, or should, my son do?
— Worried Mom
DEAR WORRIED: Although alcohol can be a part of an important bonding ritual across East Asia, your son may be able to forge successful business relationships in other ways. According to Erin Meyer, a professor at the international graduate business school INSEAD and author of “The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business”: “If you don’t drink, you can certainly find other ways to partake in the fun; in Japan, a round of karaoke or a trip to the spa can do wonders.” Because your son is involved in international business, he may find professor Meyer’s book, which was published in 2014, will give him valuable insight.
DEAR ABBY: I have some concerns about my marriage. My husband is a retired U.S. veteran. He was married before we got together, and his former spouse receives his survivor benefits. This was something that was decided during their divorce. I am not entitled to anything.
I have been a loving wife and have taken care of him for the 14 years we have been married. He has one daughter who is 40-plus years old. I just found out that I am not his beneficiary on anything — she is! This has me very worried.
Please let me know what I need to do about this situation.
— Loving wife in the South
DEAR LOVING WIFE: What you need to do is discuss this with your husband to see if he will modify his will, which may have been drafted before he married you. Then the two of you should talk to an attorney, preferably one who specializes in wills and trusts. If your husband is not willing to make an adjustment, then consult an attorney on your own because, as it stands, your husband’s estate plan is not fair to you.
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DEAR ABBY: I have a large family. As the grandchildren are now adults with significant others, it’s getting beyond my financial means to buy a Christmas gift for everyone — something I have always done. I now have a brand-new great-grandchild. What do other grandparents do at holidays about gifts?
— At my limit in New York
DEAR LIMIT: Some grandparents set an age limit after which gifts cease. Some families have a “pool” from which names are drawn so each family member buys only one gift per family. And other grandparents tell their children and adult grandchildren the truth — explaining that because they can no longer afford to buy gifts, from now on they’ll be exchanging Christmas card greetings only.