Singapore is a multiethnic society comprising of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian communities. In most of the cases, we will encounter Singaporean Chinese as the business counterparts because they exist in major percentages in terms of people. So, when we venture into such collaborative work we need to adapt the business culture of the respective business counter parts. Some of the major local customs we would know about Singapore are:
Singaporeans are generally open and cosmopolitan in their outlook. They are not likely to take offence if you commit a social faux pas, especially when they understand that you come from a different culture. Some of the things which they follow are specified below: People
Singapore is a mix of Chinese (76%), Malay (15%) and Indian (6%) cultures. Being so diverse Singaporeans enjoy its cultural traditions and our happy in maintaining a modern and cohesive society
English is the working language while the official languages are Chinese, Malay and Tamil. Most times English is spoken with a ting of local slang and dialects.
We always need to be punctual for different social occasion and business meetings, or at least give prior information if there are chances of being late.
Business cards are exchanged upon being introduced. Exchange business cards with both hands after you are introduced.
Personal contacts are important in business. It takes several years to develop business relationships. Take time to know people before discussing business.
Don’t set expectations that are unrealistic, if promised make the deliverables on time.
The government finances many of the large corporations in Singapore. This bureaucratic system is known for its high efficiency and corruption-free business style. Western-style management is evident in large firms managed by Singaporeans.
Always talk straight and get right to the point with Singaporeans. You can be direct when dealing with issues of money.
Singaporeans are normally punctual for their appointments and expects the same with others. Call them if you are unexpectedly late.
Meeting and Greeting
Need to shake hands with everyone present at a business meeting or social occasion. At most time the handshake should be firm.
Singaporeans may bow slightly as they shake your hand. A slight bow for Chinese or older people are polite.
The foot should never be used to point at someone, and you should never show the bottom of your feet. Tapping your foot or fidgeting your legs denotes feebleness and lack of interest.
We should never touch a person's or child's head. The head is considered sacred.
Raise your hand to get someone's attention. Never signal or point at a person with the forefinger.
When entertaining Malay associates (who are Muslim) it is better off if we could avoid conducting business on Fridays or during the Ramadan (the Muslim fasting month). Also never serve alcohol or pork as they do not intake them which is against their religion. Most Indians do not eat beef as well.
Gift giving is a common way of expressing thanks. Small business-related gifts such as a pen with the company logo would be sufficient. For your Malay associates, avoid products made from pigskin and alcohol as these goods contravene the laws of Islam.
There are important differences in doing business in Singapore and some of the below mentioned considerations of etiquette when conducting business in Singapore come useful at most times.
Business cards should be exchanged upon meetings and treated respectfully. Ideally, they should be given and received with both hands
Women do hold positions of authority in business. Spouses of both sexes do not usually attend business events or functions, unless specially invited.
Although the climate is tropical long-sleeved shirts and ties are still the usual call for men, while smart business wear is…