Business and Culture

Discussion in 'Self Improvement and Being Successful' started by Nazreen, Dec 23, 2008.

  1. Nazreen

    Nazreen
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    When doing business with other nationalities besides our own, it's important that we first do some research and check about the culture, manners and etiquette of our business counterparts. Knowledge of this is one of the important factors to the success of your negotiations and your business overall.

    Singaporean culture can be sometimes hard to understand especially for foreigners. One key concept of our culture is called "Kiasu". Kiasu is a Hokkien word which literally means "Fear of Losing". But the meaning and actual usage is quite different. In a dinner buffet, you might see Singaporeans putting too much food on their plates. When there's a sale like the Great Singapore Sale, you will see people queuing hours or even the night before just to be the first ones to take advantage of the discounts. These are all Kiasu behaviors and imply that you don't want to lose to others.

    Giving of gifts especially to those working in the government might not also be a good idea. Government officials here might consider this as bribes.

    How about you? What are the cultures, manners and etiquette that non-locals and foreigners should be aware of when doing business in your countries?
     
  2. scifi

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    This is a very good thread you have started, Nazreen!!!
    Study of Intercultural differences are must for every business so as to be successful in a foreign country !! The best example here can be given of failure of Walmart in china quite some time ago & at the same time success in USA!!!

    If we talk of India, we treat our guest here like we will treat GOD... So there are lot of formalities one may see here but it's tradition !!!
    Also people here demand a high level of mutual respect & like to be called with full name instead of nicknames or title !!!!
     
  3. Nazreen

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    In Singapore, we are a mix of cultural backgrounds. We have a majority of Chinese, then Malays, then Indians and some foreigners. I have a some Indian friends and from what they told me, I can assume that for Indian men, the mustache is a sign of maturity. Is this correct Scifi?

    I also heard that a relaxed handshake is acceptable for Indians. Can you also verify if this is true?
     
  4. scifi

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    Yeah, It is for sure that still mustache is sign of maturity & manlihood pride for many Indians, But that feeling is changing slowly & you will find many young man; full clean shaved too !!!
    In handshake there are no particular culture boundaries but a firm handshake indicates that one is interested & felt happy after meeting ..Relaxed handshake is also acceptable but frequently with ladies.. with men, a firm handshake is preferable!!!
     
  5. Nazreen

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    Thanks Scifi. Yes I do agree about the mustache thing. I can often see some adult male Indians are no longer sporting a mustache but most of them still do.

    I'd also like to add that religion also plays a significant role in culture but this vary from country to country. For Malays who are mostly Muslims, the women normally wouldn't shake hands or agree to be touched by other men but there are some who don't mind. But for women in Arab countries, being touched or even being in the company of other men aside from relatives, is a definite no-no.
     
  6. scifi

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    Definitely religion plays very important role in framing cultural differences!!!
    For eg. Indians generally prefer greeting every one through folding both hands in front of their chest , the posture is called 'NAMASTE' in regional language to both men & women.

    Handshakes is generally a matter of greeting while in business or when meeting someone very friendly or similar in your age..
    As in Muslim religion, in Hiduism also women are respected a lot & therefore men generally prefer doing 'Namaste' instead of handshakes(i.e. to avoid tuching them)
     
    #6 scifi, Dec 26, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2008
  7. Kay

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    Excellent thread, Nazreen. It's great to learn about the ways of other cultures. I think online especially it's very easy to cause offence however unintentionally simply because the net brings together people from all corners of the world. I know more than once I've read a response and felt it was a bit off, but then I try step back from it and see if how I'm perceiving it is how they think it's coming across.

    Kaisu is new to me, Nazreen. Does that encompass business practices as well? I imagine thinking of it as being like business competitiveness in the West is too simplistic. I'm trying to grasp the concept here...

    scifi, that's interesting about the moustaches. I didn't know that. It was only when I thought about it there I realized how many Indian men have them. I don't know of anything that's comparable to that in Western cultures.
     
  8. Kay

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    Americans I find (not all but some) are very forthright compared to the UK. It's not meant to be pushy - if anything it's just being overfriendly too quick - but sometimes comes across like that. They'll tell you their life story in five minutes flat and share very personal information with you in the checkout line that I'd only trust to a good friend. Scots are a bit more reticent than that but not unfriendly.

    Those from the Southern states are different again - they're far more laid back with a slower pace of life and will take a lot of time to decide if they want to be friends or not. They're much more genteel in my experience, expect impeccable manners and want to get to know you and do things very slowly. I found that hard to adjust to and read it first as being unfriendly but it really wasn't. They just have a more guarded approach to newcomers.
     
  9. scifi

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    Hi! Kay
    Well unlike India, people in USA are very informal & they just behave casual & I have also experienced that comfort level is much higher while communicating with them because one has to behave as one is without any formality because they don't take anything too seriously..
    Well if I am wrong anywhere do correct me.. One more thing that I appreciate abt them is that they are very loyal in business terms..!!!
     
  10. Nazreen

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    It's actually kiasu, Kay (not kaisu). :)

    Anyway, the answer to your question is yes. It's a bit of misplaced competitiveness that borders on being greedy and sometimes even losing sight of why your trying to compete in the first place.

    Another example of this would be a Singapore parent enrolling their children in enrichment classes even before the kids turn 5. I would believe that in other countries and especially in the west, the kids are still considered too young and should still be playing. In this example, the parents don't want their kids to lose to other kids.

    In the example I gave about someone filling his plate at a buffet. The reason for this is that they want to get their money's worth and not lose out.
     
    #10 Nazreen, Dec 29, 2008
    Last edited: May 30, 2009
  11. Nazreen

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    Aside from being "Kiasu", prices of goods and services here in Singapore are normally fixed and reasonable. At big stores and supermarts, you normally wouldn't be able to bargain for a lower price but Singaporeans don't take insult if people bargain for a better deal.

    Also, tipping isn't necessary here because that should already be included in the service charge. If you still want to give a tip, that's okay and will be greatly appreciated by the service staff.
     
  12. pendelton

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    I had missed this thread, and asked Nazreen a few questions via PM that left me thinking Singapore is not an area for me to market in for the services of one of my ventures.

    She pointed out her thread here in our PM exchange and she could not be more right, learning about the cultural differences in a target market is very important.

    This applies to regional differences in large nations, such as the US and Canada, that have such a diversified group in them. And, to different groups in the same location even. The difference in the areas of the same cities is almost as much of a difference as my location in the US to Nazreen's.
     

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