When doing business in foreign countries it is very important to observe the culture. One needs to know the Do's & Don'ts to avoid cultural pit falls and to build a stable basis for good business.
Part 1 (What to wear?) of our blog series showed you how to dress appropriate when on a business trip in Indonesia.
In part 2 we show you some basic business etiquette from correct greeting to a perfect meeting
Business Etiquette for Indonesia
To welcome someone in Indonesia, do the handshake, but your handshake should be very gentle-almost limp. A firm handshake is felt by many Indonesians as extremely unpleasant and is a sign for a rude personality.
Also women are greeted with a handshake, but it may happen that an Indonesian rejects this greeting, and instead puts together both hands in front of his chest and bowed slightly. In this case the person is most likely a Muslim who avoids body contact with the other gender. If this happens you should reply the gesture by doing the same.
Indonesians are very frugal with touches when interacting with foreigners. Men are touching each other sometimes only on the forearm or shoulder when they know each other better. To kiss on the left and right cheeks is not normal in Indonesia but starts to become a habit in private and upper society. Touching another person in public or form the other sex is considered as impolite and should be avoided.
A very usual thing in Western culture is not self-understood in Indonesia. Direct eye contact when talking is not always appropriate for Indonesians. From you as an European, it is ok if you have direct eye contact but don’t stare at the person you are talking to and don’t force them to keep the eye contact. If an Indonesian is trying to avoid eye contact, it should be accepted and not understood as impolite. Some Indonesians are educated that way. This is because Indonesia is strongly influenced by hierarchy and status and Indonesians look down if they feel they are hierarchically or socially in a lower rank.
DON’T BLOW THE HORN!
Blowing of your nose into to a hanky could draw some negative attention to you Indonesia. To blow once nose in public or in front of others is considered to be extremely unhygienic and impolite in Indonesia. If you need to blow your nose during a meeting, then excuse yourself, leave room and embark in the toilet. One of the worst things you can do is to put your used hanky into your pocket. If you do both in front of an Indonesian you can be sure that he/she will never ever shake your hand.
THE BUSINESS CARD
Business cards are your ID for business in Indonesia. You should never run out of them because you will be asked everywhere for your card. Be sure to us a job titles that reflects your position and status as well as degrees such as PhD, Dr., Prof. if you posses them. Your business card should look professional and have a good logo as well as your contact details. Indonesians will also give you there business card and many will use both hands to hand it over. Take the card also with two hands and place it in front of you during meetings or inside your pocket (please not in your back pocket).
Some Indonesians will give you more than one business card. It is very common in Indonesia to have a second business and thus more than one business card. The most important you should ask is the mobile number of your Indonesian business partner. Because this is the best way to get in touch with someone (via SMS, BBM, WhatsApp or by calling). In Indonesia the use of SMS or any social media communication in business is absolutely normal.
As you may know, first and last name rules are not usual for Indonesians. If you meet someone, who’s name is for example, Anton Herotomo. ‘Herotomo’ is not his last or family name, but he was just called Anton Herotomo by his parents. To address a person correct it is best to take the first name on the business card and put a “Mr.” or “Mrs.” Before that, if your conversation goes in English. So you may call that person Mr. Anton rather than Mr. Herotomo. Indonesians often use nicknames, also in business which sometimes is not even similar to the name on the business card.
If you are offered to us it, just do that. It is a sign of trust if. Are you being addressed by an Indonesian it might happen that you are also called by your first name (i.e. Mr. John or Ms. Maria). Don’t try to explain that your family name is Smith or Meyer. People will continue calling you Mr. John or Ms. Maria. If you are not sure about how you should address someone it is no problem to simply ask the person about how he/she wants to be called.
MAKE IT EASY!
In Indonesia, there are two very practical words that simply mean “Mr." or "Mrs." which you can use for the salutation. If you do not know the name of your counterpart, or have forgotten it, then speak to him simply with “Pak” (spoken Pa with a hard P like in parking) or “Ibu”. “Pak” is used to address a man, while “Ibu” is for ladies. It is very much appreciated by Indonesians if you do that and it will rewarded.
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