Business Practices in Singapore

Overview by
The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture

Business discussions are usually conducted in a very straightforward manner and more formal than in many western countries. There are strict rules of protocol that must be observed.

The group (company or department) is viewed as more important than the individual.
First Contact
Being introduced by a third person makes the first contact much easier. This gives you immediate access and credibility.

Younger people or those who work in multi-national companies may have adopted the western concept of shaking hands with everyone, but this is not the case with older or more reserved Singaporeans.

When being introduced to someone of the opposite sex, nodding the head and smiling is usually sufficient.
How to Present Yourself
Greetings will follow a strict protocol often based on both the ethnic origin and age of the person.
Business Relations
Doing business in Singapore involves building relationships. Singaporeans generally prefer to deal with those they know and trust. However, b usiness relations are above all personal relations.

Since there are cultural differences in how the three main ethnic groups treat gifts, they are listed separately.

Gift giving to ethnic Chinese: a gift may be refused three times before it is accepted. This demonstrates that the recipient is not greedy. Gifts are not opened when received.
Gift giving to ethnic Malays: n ever give alcohol as gift.
Gift giving to ethnic Indians: If you give flowers, avoid frangipani as they are used in funeral wreaths. Avoid giving leather products to a Hindu.

Business Communication
Generally in English. Both verbal and non-verbal communications play a vital role in business communication.

Singaporeans rely on facial expression, tone of voice and posture to tell them what someone feels. They tend to be subtle, indirect and implicit in their communications.

Dress Code
Standard office wear: dark trousers, light-colored long-sleeved shirts, and ties. Jackets are not required because of hot and humid weather.

Women wear: blouse with pants or skirt. Hosiery and business suits are only required in more formal offices.

As a foreigner, you should dress 'up' formally. The safest option is to wear a suit and remove the jacket when it is appropriate.

Visiting Cards

Business cards are exchanged after the initial introductions using both hands.

It is a good idea to have one side of your card translated into Mandarin. Treat business cards with respect. This is indicative of how you will treat the relationship.
For Further Information
Kwintessential website
Executiveplanet website
U.S. Commercial Service
Doing Business

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