Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Business Etiquette, Protocol and Customs in Bangladesh

Communication StylesCustoms and Etiquette Bangladesh
Bangladeshis are simply indirect communicators. They tend to communicate in long, rich and circumlocutory sentences which only indicate sense when properly understood.  It is important for all visitors who hail from direct cultures to realize that their communication styles may be seen as impolite and the information provided inadequate. Personal space is less in Bangladesh than in many European cultures. Bengalis stand very close when speaking to someone of the same gender and touching each other is common. When speaking with a woman the space is often widened. 

Meeting & Greeting
Business etiquette in Bangladesh is formal. Proper behavior is always expected. Men greet each other with a warm handshake upon arriving and leaving. Foreign man should nod to a Bangladeshi woman unless the latter extends her hand.

Business Card Etiquette
Business cards may be exchanged after the first introduction. Educational qualifications are always valued so include the university degrees. Produce your business card with your right hand. Treat the business cards given to you with respect. Merely glancing at it then throwing it upon the table would be impolite. Study it; ideally place it into a business card holder.

Business Meetings
Meetings in Bangladesh are the place where decisions are to be disseminated rather than to be made. They will usually be initiated by the senior most present who sets the agenda, the content, and the proceedings of the activities. Starting of a meeting is normally delayed beyond the scheduled time. Completing a meeting takes priority over time and may extend well past any scheduled end time. It may be delayed even for on or more hours. Meetings commence with some small talks. Communication is ceremonial and follows a hierarchical structure. Reverence to the most superior person in the group is anticipated. This is especially proper when dealing with government officials. One should never let his level of professionalism slip. Informal behavior may be misinterpreted as a lack of respect. Never lose your temper or show sentiment. This means the loss of dignity and respect. The need to avoid ‘a loss of face’ should be reflected in communication styles. Rather than saying ‘no’ Bangladeshis will express sentiments in such a way that the implication is understood. Phrases such as "we will try", "that may be difficult", or "we will have to give that some thought" may mean "this can't be done" or “we can’t do it”. So it is important to ask several questions to be certain what was actually meant by a vague response. Silence is sometimes used as a communication tool. Formal dress is always expected. Foreigners will find the lack of smiles in Bangladesh. Actually this has nothing to do with unfriendliness.  Interestingly, a serious face is believed to demonstrate power, maturity and wisdom.