WORKING ABROAD / AUG. 12, 2014
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How to Master Business Etiquette in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is considered to be one of the most interesting business and economic cases in the world today. Despite suffering from intense conflicts, political instability, domestic strife, inadequate infrastructure and the financial crisis, the nation of Bangladesh continues to grow its economy by six percent each year. Does this spell a business opportunity?

With a gross domestic product of more than a quarter of a trillion dollars, a low unemployment rate of just under five percent and various lucrative industries, Bangladesh can be considered prime real estate for investors. Although its political troubles don’t seem likely to dwindle, the country can still offer many prospects in relation to cotton, metals, natural gas, sugar and tea.

If you’re seeking out foreign land that has an array of opportunities to provide you with then Bangladesh may be the best place to do it, as long as you adapt to its culture and speak the local language. With that being said, here are five business etiquettes to know in Bangladesh:

Communication

Bangla, also known as Bengali, is the official language of Bangladesh. English is the second most popular language spoken in the country.

The way individuals communicate in Bangladesh depends on how well people know each other. If you’re an acquaintance then expect the other person to speak indirectly, while close friends, colleagues or relatives will be direct in their communications. The reason for this is that people like to avoid confrontation and being rude.

An arm’s length is the best approach to take when talking to somebody. For members of the same sex, things like putting your hands on the other person’s shoulders, touching the arm or holding hands is rather acceptable, except in formal arrangements or in the company of strangers.

Maintaining eye contact with the individuals of the same gender is appropriate but not for too long. There is no direct eye contact between members of the opposite sex. In general, less eye contact can actually be seen as a sign of respect.

Dress Code

Conservative attire is required clothing for both men and women. Men will wear conservative suits with dark colors with shoes that are easy to put on and take off. Women, meanwhile, will sport conservative dresses, business suits and blouses – it’s best to avoid tight and revealing clothing.

Less casual clothing like jeans are not recommended for initial meetings.

Greetings

When men greet men, they will say “Salam Aleikum” and respond with “wa alaikum salam.” Light handshakes in business situations are suggested.

When women greet women, they will say the same thing. If they are well acquainted then they will engage in a light hug. It is quite rare to see two women shake hands.

When men greet women, the same verbal greetings are espoused, but there is very little contact. It is always best to wait until the lady extends her hand first to indicate that she wishes to shake hands.

Professional Titles & Business Cards

Professional titles are very important and individuals should address each other as Mr. and Mrs. followed by their surname. Moving forward, many people then refer to others by their surname succeeded by “ji,” which is viewed as a gesture of respect.

Business cards are allocated after the first greeting and handshake. When giving and receiving business cards, do so with your right hand, and be sure to treat the cards with the utmost care. This means that you should avoid writing on them or crumpling the cards.

Punctuality

Time is not strict in Bangladesh. In fact, the general population is quite casual when it comes to time: it is customary to be late to meetings, friends may be late by as much as two hours in social settings and time is offered freely unless they want to avoid you as much as possible.

Bangladesh is indeed an interesting country. Its history, culture, sights and people have contributed to the world and so much to the development of Bangladesh. As long as you respect its customs and traditions and be acceptable of their behavior then you should do rather well.

Have you previously conducted business in Bangladesh? Let us know in the comment section.

Photo by Wonderlane via Flickr.

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