Business Etiquette

Singapore harbors a conglomeration of cultures, each having their own customs. Though this led to conflicts in the past, today, the nation enjoys racial harmony and a common thread of business customs.

Greetings – In Singapore, shaking hands is common at business and social meetings. A firm handshake is ideal both before and after the meeting. Furthermore, adding a slight bow is recognized as a sign of respect. During the initial greeting, business cards are ideally exchanged.

Negotiations – Singaporeans love to bargain and negotiating is viewed as a thoughtful process that allows relationships to develop, ultimately leading to a group consensus. During negotiations, while Singaporeans often don’t say no, they often use phrases like “we’ll see” to defer it.

Email – In Singapore, emails are much more formal than other cultures and proper etiquette must be maintained while writing one. The mail must observe formal salutations and closings and the content should be put forth in a polite manner.

Online Presence – Singaporeans are active internet users and 90% of the users have social media accounts. Given that all Internet uploads are permanent, it is important to have a good online reputation.

Dressing – Singapore has warm and humid weather due to which there is a tendency to dress business casual. In a business setting, it is recommended for men to wear long sleeve shirts with ties and for women to wear long sleeve blouses with knee-length or mid-length skirts.

Gifts –Exchanging small gifts among a group after a business deal is appropriate. When invited to a social event, bringing gifts such as a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates is preferred. However, it is important to bear in mind who the host is as it is illegal for government officials to accept gifts.


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