Business people who transact on a global scale instead of merely being concentrated on the local market would know just how different it is to do business between cultures. Even with countries geographically located near each other such as those in Asia, it is impossible to expect a single style of doing business. It has to be noted that each country has its distinct business practices although there are certain parallelisms that can be seen among them.
The Asian Way
Like in all other areas of living , Asians have a distinct way of doing business. Business people from the Western countries may find these ways surprising and may make them uneasy. Knowing them and trying to adjust to them however can make doing business with Asian counterparts more productive and profitable.
The Personal Connection
This should be looked upon on a proper perspective. Asians tend to be more receptive to business associates that have some “personal connections” with people known to them. Although it may be interpreted in a negative way by foreigners, the basis lies on the need to have trust. Being connected in some way to a person or entity who can vouch for a foreign individual or company’s representation is highly valued.
Top Down Management
Management of Asian companies are predominantly traditional in such a way that almost all major decisions emanate from the top by a controlled few, usually the biggest stakeholders in the company. Senior management directs subordinates who are not free to question their decisions. Hierarchy is typically observed.
Respect, Not Familiarity
Asian businessmen react well to respect for stature, age, and view. Show of familiarity is not necessary. Over-all politeness is the key. Knowing the local language or at least an obvious effort to learn it is seen as a form of respect. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for example to enroll in Thai classes before embarking on a big business trip to Thailand.
In business talks, Asians prefer to have a way to save face. This would usually be seen in their unwillingness to commit more than what they think they can deliver. Losing face is a major debacle both for the individual and the company he or she is representing.
Westerners may misinterpret the Asian’s soft-spokenness as the lack of a personal stand. What is not expressed in words may be manifested in actions. It would be best to pay attention to details that can provide a clue to what they are thinking.