August 2016

Posted by Anton Murray Consulting on . Posted in 2016

Tips for Doing Business Abroad

Doing business abroad can have challenges beyond basic language barriers. Here are a few tips for your next business dealing with people from Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia to help bridge any potential culture gaps.

Singapore is a multicultural society where Chinese, Malay and Indian traditions coexist in a western cosmopolitan city full of well-educated, innovative individuals. The Chinese community accounts for around three-quarters of Singapore’s population so their culture has a great influence on how business is done. They consider the interests of a group more important than those of an individual and, as such, decisions are usually reached by consensus. Singaporeans placeimportance on hierarchy and status so it is advisable to know who is more senior as they are the ones who should be spoken with first in a meeting. A light handshake is good during greetings but you might find that it is appropriate to slightly bow your head in acknowledgement to women. Singaporeans prefer a calm manner during communication. Don’t speak hastily; it comes across as thoughtless. Be prepared for some tough negotiations too; the Singaporeans like to bargain. Try not to lose patience when working out the details. When a business deal is closed, the exchanging of small gifts is appropriate.

Singapore and Hong Kong share similar values so doing business can be a comparable experience. Red is a lucky colour in Hong Kong, and represents good fortune, so wearing something red, such as a tie, may have a positive effect during business negotiations. It is a sign of respect when you lower your eyes during an introduction and a light handshake is appropriate. And ensure you address them with their appropriate title and surname. People in Hong Kong might ask you some personal questions during small talk before proceeding to talking business in order to get to know you well. If someone at a business meeting sucks air through their teeth, It is likely you have said something they don’t like. Try to rephrase what you meant to say.

In Australia, English is spoken in the majority of cases but you might find some people have a strong accent. Some slang and colourful language may challenge those from out of town. However, Australians are fairly easygoing and won’t be offended if you ask them to repeat something, but look the part. Don’t head to a meeting looking like you’re going to the beach afterwards. Australians are often informal during meetings; a handshake and a smile should suffice. They have a matter-of-fact approach when it comes to business and negotiations can be quick. They don’t bargain that much but avoid exaggerated claims when making presentations. Australians appreciate modesty and a bit of a sense of humour.


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