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Singapore Etiquette

Singapore is a bustling, world-class city-state that has made waves around the world for its business excellence.

If you are on a business visit or furthermore looking to relocate and work in South East Asia, you should habituate yourself with the most common business etiquettes in Singapore. Top tips for business etiquette: Bring lots of business cards to meetings: They should be presented with both hands with the name facing the recipient. Upon receiving a card never write on it, put it casually in your back pocket, or slot into a folder, as any of these actions can be misconstrued as disrespect. Punctuality: Although Singaporeans tend to arrive late for social events, being late for business appointments is paramount to an insult. Plan meetings in advance: It is essential to arrange your meetings in Singapore in advance. Do so weeks, even months, prior to your visit. Small talk: Casual conversation is often typical at the start of a meeting and is part of ‘getting to know you’ phase. You may be asked questions about your background or personal details. Handshakes: These are the most common business greeting in Singapore. A gentle squeeze lasting 10 to 12 seconds is ideal. While Westerners tend to read a lot into a handshake, for Singaporeans, ‘pressing the flesh’ is considered merely a friendly greeting. There are no subtle messages encoded in a handshake’s firmness or duration. Body language: Singaporeans are reserved in nature, so it is useful to be aware of their body language and verbal cues. In Western environments, looking a person straight in the eye says: “You have my full attention.” In Singapore, the direct look may be interpreted as disrespect, or worse – as aggression. Catch your counterpart’s eyes for a second, then immediately lower your head and look down. Your body language expresses that you are honouring the person in your presence. Whenever you work in a new city or a new country, you should always be aware of customs and social etiquette, whether that be in a social or business setting. Remember, first impressions count for a lot, make the wrong first impression and you may not get another chance!

  • Aug 14, 2013
  • Culture
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Morgan McKinley

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