The Global Economy has seen some shock due to Covid 19. However, many businesses see that as an opportunity for the future. Asia has been a hot spot for many international companies looking to expand their businesses worldwide. As Asia remains at the forefront of global economic development, it is strategic for multinational corporations to expand operations within this region and capitalize on its advantages and long-term potential. To flourish in these diverse, emerging consumer markets, an in-depth understanding of cultural differences and adjustment with unique business cultures and systems is vital for success.
We should note that Asia is a whole continent, and countries have their peculiarities and business cultures that are different from each other. For example, business etiquette in China is different from business customs in Japan. However, over the centuries, the people of Asia have gone through many similar political processes and have developed their economies to the point that international businesses have penetrated their markets.
Here is our general tips and guidelines for business etiquette and practices in Asia that will help you get started:
A primary indication of admiration, punctuality is highly appreciated in Asian countries, and arriving ahead of time is deemed professional. A gentle handshake accompanied by good eye contact are appropriate formal greetings, but in Thailand, where the”wai” gesture with palms pressed together, is still standard protocol. Asian professionals also value their personal space and dislike unnecessary physical contact, so prevent tapping a person’s spine and putting your arm around someone’s shoulder. When exchanging business cards, it’s customary to give and get using both hands. Be sure to read the cards before placing them on your card case or about the table.
Business people in Asia invest a lot of time (and cash ) building trust and developing strong relationships with their partners and clients. Making small talk is a must to establish rapport and create a fantastic first impression during first meetings. Start by studying the right pronunciation of their names and break the ice with simple and greetings phrases in their native language. For little discussion, select safe, lighthearted debate topics, such as traveling, hobbies, sports, technology, and the weather. As in other countries, they were talking about politics and religion is a no-no.
Networking takes time and effort, but”who” you understand things a lot in Asian business cultures, where several corporations are owned by prominent families and controlled by the authorities, except in Japan. When growing your professional network, have long-term goals in mind and understand how to take advantage of peers and other contacts’ introductions or referrals. However, refrain from name-dropping and over-mentioning your connections in corporate scenarios. It is better to emphasize your proficiency rather than influence.
In terms of verbal communication, Westerners generally tend to be simpler than those from the East, where facial expressions and body language are critical in social interactions. Most Asian professionals come from non-confrontational societies, thus pay closer attention to nonverbal cues. Giving credit to the group is also more suitable than complimenting individual employees.
Unlike in individualist cultures, where workers are individually responsible for their decisions, decision-making in Asian firms is highly centralized and usually flows from the top downwards, so those with a large stake in the company hold the reigns. This top-notch direction is practiced by most Asian markets, except for Japan, where firms make collective decisions. In general, teams tend to delay making decisions until they obtain their superiors’ acceptance and achieve a consensus.
Showing cultural sensitivity goes a very long way, particularly in today’s globalized business scene. It is no easy game to sell your products or services to the Asian market. The challenges are formidable, and risks are high. However, companies that were able to penetrate the Asian market have benefited very well.