Singapore ranks among the fastest developing tiger economies, and the smallest nation in Southeast Asia has quite a few particularities. In today’s blog post, you’ll learn important information about Singaporean business manners, which will especially help with your negotiations.
Singapore is a multicultural and multiethnic society. Chinese, Indian and Malay people are especially well represented in the population. Thanks to this multiculturalism and its resulting influences, it’s difficult to view the Singaporean culture’s social rules as a coherent standard. We’d nevertheless like to give you a few fundamental tips to help you with your cross-border collaborations.
At the beginning of your first business meeting in Singapore, all attendees will undoubtedly exchange business cards. Look closely at your counterparts’ cards, but don’t put them away immediately. Handle business cards with attention and courtesy; this is seen as a sign of respect for the owners of the cards. Afterwards, when initial talks and negotiations begin, these can develop slowly for our sense of time and drag on for days. This may test your patience.
Personal relationships at the fore
The main point of the initial negotiation phase in Singapore is to allow for cautious acquaintance, and it includes small talk as well as having meals together. In this getting-to-know-you phase, a lot of value is placed on mutual respect. Meetings at this stage are very formal. They often take place in conference or meeting rooms that are specially decorated for the occasion in order to welcome the guests and leave a good impression.
Your personal relationship with your counterpart is crucial to negotiations and closing contracts. The stronger your relationship with your Singaporean business partner, the more easily he or she will make contractual concessions. On top of that, always be sure to strive for a win-win situation in negotiations. In collectivistic and relationship-oriented cultures like Singapore, a lot of value is placed on cooperative business transactions. This allows not only for the strengthening of your relationship with your partner, but also for the minimization of the risk of disagreements and loss of face. This will automatically increase your chances of making a business deal.
Long-term orientation and gifts
Furthermore, try to keep in the back of your mind that negotiations serve as the foundation of long-term partnerships and can thus involve much more than just this one contract, so encourage mutual trust and common interests! If frictions arise in the talks, it’s advisable to maintain a cooperative undertone. If the negotiations stagnate or appear to be impaired, you can try to return the talks to the relationship level and resume business-related topics at a later point in time.
If you want to achieve business success in Singapore, you should also gather extensive information about suitable gifts. Giving and receiving presents is based on longstanding traditions in many Asian countries, and the same holds true for Singapore. Suitable gifts can include typical products from your home country, such as chocolates. Keep in mind the color of the packaging, though; the color red, which stands for luck, is always a good choice!
Do you have an important business trip to Singapore coming up, are you about to be sent to Singapore or are you a member of an international project team from Singapore? If yes, then we’d recommend taking our cross-cultural training on Singapore. We also offer cross-cultural trainings for a total of 80 different target countries.