The Importance of Etiquette and Social Cues in Asian Business
Introduction In my experience learning about Asian business culture one things stands out to me more than any other, the importance of etiquette. In Asia minding your manners and understanding unspoken social cues is just as important, if not more important than making a good business proposition. Accidentally being a little rude can break down a whole business partnership. For every country there are different traditions and different etiquette rules to be followed. Each country also seems to have their very own unspoken set of subtle social cues. The key to being a successful international businessperson seems to be in knowing all of your cultures very well and simply carefully minding your manners.
Different Cultures Each Country has its very own culture and in turn it’s own set of etiquette rules, it is important to recognize and respect each and every one. In order to provide some examples to show just how much Asian cultures vary and to show how they all have one thing in common, that is, that they all value etiquette very much when it comes to choosing prospective business partners, I will go into detail about the business culture of two Asian countries.
In order to do business in Korea understanding their culture is crucial. Having polite manners will be seen as courteous it will be even more appreciated for the foreigner to have made the effort to learn about Korean customs and language, which in turn will greatly help you make stronger business partnerships. Koreans still follow certain Confucian traditions. This means that respect for elders and education is emphasized. Nowadays not all Koreans follow the Confucian principles quite as closely, however, they are still pretty important when it comes to business practices and customs. According to Confucian traditions Koreans have hierarchical relationships, which, are based on their ages, educational background, social standing, and working position. Because of this Hierarchical tradition, one should expect questions that to us may seem personal or irrelevant about age, status, and background. Confucian tradition places great value in relationships because of this Koreans may place much importance and value on certain people and places and be loyal to them, they want to do business with people and in places to which they feel personally connected to. Because of this, building good relationships over time is extremely important.
In order to have good business etiquette it is important to be able to use Korean names correctly. Korean names are up of two parts the family name, and a given name, which consists of two syllables. Ones family name always comes first so an example of a Korean name would be as follows: Kim Hyun-Joong. Just like in many other cultures around the world it is polite to use the persons family name along with Mr., Mrs., or Ms. unless you have known the person for an extended period of time and are on a friendly basis. For Koreans when it comes to meetings and appointments one should strive to be on time or maybe just a few minutes early. If you are afraid you might be late due to traffic or some sort of emergency it is always expected of you to call ahead and inform the person with whom you are meeting that you will be late. When first meeting someone it is common to engage in small talk about things such as what you like to do in your leisure time, what your family is like, and your impressions so far on Korea (if it is your first visit). Because of the importance placed on relationships it is imperative that a businessperson be ready to have interactions in leisurely situations outside of business hours in order to build friendships (which can only help with business deals).
When doing business in Korea it is polite to exchange gifts in order to secure favours and make relationships stronger. You are always expected to reciprocate gifts,…