Building Relationships & Communication
. Personal relationships are the cornerstone of all business relationships.
. Business is a matter of being tied into the proper network, which is the result of long- standing personal relationships or the proper introductions.
. This is a group-oriented culture, so links are often based on ethnicity, education or working for the same company.
. Once you are recognized as part of the group, you will be accepted and expected to obey the unwritten rules of the group.
. Relationships take time to develop.
. You must be patient as this indicates that your organization is here for the long-term and is not looking only for short- term gains.
. Always be respectful and courteous when dealing with others as this leads to the harmonious relationships necessary within business.
. Rank is always respected. The eldest person in the group is revered.
. Most Singaporeans are soft-spoken and believe a calm demeanour is superior to a more aggressive style.
. Watch your body language and facial expressions.
Business Meeting Etiquette
. Appointments are necessary and should be made at least 2 weeks in advance, whenever possible.
. The most formal way to schedule a meeting is to write to the person concerned, although most Singaporeans will schedule an appointment by telephone, fax, or e-mail.
. Do not try to schedule meetings during Chinese New Year (late January/early February), since many businesses close for the entire week.
. You should arrive at meetings on time. Punctuality is a virtue.
. There will be period of small talk before getting down to business discussions.
. Since questioning authority is a taboo, it is important to encourage questions when after making a presentation and then smile when a question is eventually asked.
. Presentations should be accompanied by backup material, including charts and figures.
. Never disagree or criticize someone who is senior to you in rank as it will cause both of you to lose face and may destroy the business relationship.
. Pay attention to non-verbal communication.
. Always send a list of people who will be attending the negotiations and their title well in advance.
. Always wait to be told where to sit. There is a strict hierarchy that must be followed.
. Business negotiations happen at a slow pace.
. Singaporeans are non-confrontational. They will not overtly say 'no'; likewise, their 'yes' does not always signify agreement.
. Singaporeans give a respectful pause of up to 15 seconds before answering a question. Do not start speaking too quickly or you will miss the answer.
. Be prepared with a mental list of concessions you would be willing to make that would not injure your own business.
. Singaporeans are tough negotiators on price and deadlines.
. Decisions are consensus driven
. Avoid losing your temper or you will lose face and damage your relationship.
. If you are signing a contract with ethnic Chinese, the signing date may be determined by an astrologer or a geomancer (feng shui man).
. Business cards are exchanged after the initial introductions.
. Business cards are exchanged using both hands.
. If you will be meeting ethnic Chinese, it is a good idea to have one side of your card translated into Mandarin. Have the Chinese characters printed in gold, as this is an auspicious colour. Hand your card so the typeface faces the recipient.
. Examine business cards carefully before putting them in a business card case.
. Treat business cards with respect. This is indicative of how you will treat the relationship.
. Your own business cards should be maintained in pristine condition. Never give someone a tattered card.