Cultural Practices and Business Etiquette of Asian Countries
It is a known fact that social traditions, culture and business etiquette of the Far Eastern and Asian countries are very much distinct from European or American business and cultural customs. That is why it is essential for every Western company or business organization, which is about to start any sort of business cooperation with Far Eastern partners and expand its activities to Asian markets, to pay proper attention on the issues of cross-cultural competence and learn more about social attitudes and approaches, business etiquette and traditions, customs, values, possible communicational challenges, etc.
Modern Japanese social and business culture can be characterized by a great influence of conservatism on every aspect of life. Important business customs in Japanese society include bowing when greeting people, business card exchange ceremony (giving you business card with two hands and with a bow) and gift exchange. Japanese business culture is strongly influenced by many conservative social values, such as respect to the seniors, hierarchy, social harmony, avoiding conflicts, etc. In terms of social and business etiquette, it is very important to avoid asking direct questions and saying “no”, avoid approaching too close to people and blowing your nose on public, learn to use chopsticks, etc.
Social and business environment of South Korea is pretty much similar to the one of Japan. However, in modern Korea the influence of Confucian ethics and values are even stronger. It is essential to dress and behave formally in any situation, and always show the highest respect to the seniors and the elderly. In addition to bowing and business card exchange, Korean business etiquette includes very strict rules about entering a meeting hall (only the seniors can enter first) and waiting for the seniors to act (one should never sit or start eating until the seniors started doing so). Finally, the issues of friendship and mutual understanding between people are prior for the Koreans, that is why it is essential to establish good personal relationships with the potential Korean partners.
Chinese business culture is based on such social concepts as honor, reputation and maintaining harmonious relations with other people. Punctuality, politeness and discipline are essential for those who want to work with the Chinese. It is possible to use handshakes when greeting people and it is necessary to use names with titles when addressing to the Chinese. During negotiations, a lot of attention is usually paid on documentation, various details, facts, specifications, etc. Dinning etiquette in China is very close to the ones of Korea and Japan. Some other social practices in Chinese society include a tradition to avoid staring at someone, avoid speaking too loudly and doing a lot of hand movements while talking, etc.
Indonesia is a large Asian country which, in contrast to the above mentioned societies, can be characterized by a great cultural diversity. As a rule, Indonesian businessmen tend to establish friendly relations with their potential partners. Therefore, making a good impression is very important. In Indonesian business culture it is essential to use titles with names. Business card exchange ceremony is also practiced. Etiquette rules suggest showing modesty and attempting to verbally refuse a gift offered. According to local dinning etiquette, food should be accepted and given only with the right hand. Since Muslim community in Indonesia is quite large, it is recommended to avoid giving alcohol as a gift.
Finally, it is possible to contrast business cultures of the Far Eastern countries to business traditions of another Asian country, Turkey. Social and business environment in Turkey is considerably more liberal and is not based on conservatism or formal approach. Turkish people are very opened and friendly, they value personal relationships and usually ask a lot of direct questions about the family and children of their potential business partners.
Social attitudes in Turkey are dominated by patriotism and religious viewpoints. In terms of business etiquette, the Turks prefer formal dress code and love showing their hospitality. It is necessary to avoid giving alcoholic drinks as a gift, as well as be ready for quite slow decision making and a lot of informal communication.
Country Profiles – Global Guide to Culture, Customs and Etiquette. (n.d.) Kwintessential.
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