The top 6 Asian business tips
(i) Learn & Understand the Culture
“When in Rome (do) learn what the Romans do.” Face is everything – experience tells us that ‘face’ in terms of dignity, prestige, honour, respect and status is paramount. While Westerners often make jokes at their own expense or at other people’s expense, until you know your Asian counterparts well, humour directed towards them will cause them to lose face and if they lose face you will lose business.
(ii) Why age wins
Age represents wisdom, experience, rank and seniority (men and women). Be careful including too many younger team members, especially if the client is of a mature vintage.
(iii) Social interaction & breaking ‘bread’
Prepare to eat and drink as part of the ritual, it’s regarded as the way to build deeper relationships. The Japanese call this ‘nominication, which means ‘drinking communication’ and in order to build any kind of meaningful business relationship with your associates, you must go out for dinner and drinks... sometimes to the early hours. This may be followed by a karaoke session.
(iv) Paying the Bill:
In Asia, it’s usual that the host will be the boss, the head of the table, the eldest (or perhaps someone who is all three) who pays the bill. It’s considered an honour for him/her to do so, so insisting on taking the bill can be considered quite rude. Allow your host to pick up the tab and thank them graciously for it.