BUSINESS AND SOCIAL ETIQUETTE IN THE ARAB WORLD, INDIA AND THE REST OF THE WORLD.
COMPARING DATA FROM 13 COUNTRIES OF EUROPE, ASIA, AND THE AMERICAS
High-context cultures (such as Japan, India, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa) are collectivist, value interpersonal relationships, and have members that form stable, close relationships. They rely heavily on context (i.e., body language, a person's status, and tone of voice) and messages are not explicitly stated. This is in direct contrast to low-context cultures, in which information is communicated primarily through language and rules are explicitly spelled out. High-context cultures prefer more nuanced approaches that place a lower focus on team or business goals and are reluctant to suborn cultural and social norms in favour of achieving corporate objectives.
Organizations from the Anglo-Saxon group (US, UK, Canada, and Australia) place more emphasis on universally applicable rules and codes of ethics (and be less supportive of behaviors, driven by particularistic and situational considerations). They believe in the importance of personal moral and ethical behavior of leaders; and emphasize the importance of formal ethics programs and related training. These cultures place absolute importance on achieving corporate goals.
Organizations from the rest of countries are more inclined to use situational and individualized approach to ethical decision making, and will put less emphasis on formal rules, codes, or compliance programs.
We could expect to find significant variation in ethical business practices among countries outside the Anglo-Saxon cluster, even among countries of the same region.
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This paper reports the results of a survey-based study of perceptions of ethical business practices in 13 countries of Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Responses from more than 23,000 managers and employees were analyzed and aimed at identifying homogenous sets of countries. Anglo- Saxon countries (US, UK, Australia, and Canada) clustered together and were joined by India in most cases. Japan and Italy formed a significantly different from all other countries homogenous subset, while countries of continental Europe, China, Mexico, and Brazil tended to form various mid-range clusters, different from the above two groupings.
THE MIDDLE EAST
Business behavior in Arab countries is governed by Islamic views, which assume that human behavior, in general, is governed by innate universal moral values. In the Middle East, especially in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, business decisions have to pass through a moral filter. For example, it is a moral obligation of a seller to disclose to the buyer any defects in articles they are selling. However, in many cases, there is a gap between this ideal and the actual practices because of the existence of divergent behaviors on the part of business people who need to compete and to survive in difficult conditions.
UAE social and business etiquette
- Avoid business jargon
- People may be loud and affective
- They emphasize status
- They are intuitive
- They consider that a little of emotion is a sign of sincerity
- Any hesitation in giving an answer is a sign of a No
- Truth is mostly perceived as cruel, dangerous, rude and negotiable
- Slow at revealing their true minds
- Words have high value
- Don’t swear or cuss
- Status is more important than achievements
- Exaggeration and metaphors are abound
- Strong eye contact is appreciated
- High level of connections and networking
Points of interest
- Stock market
- Construction / contractors issues and future
- Hospitality (Bedouin tradition of 3 days is a must)
- Hide emotions
- Short eye contact
- Extended courtesy (to count the blessings)
- They prefer a conservative sitting and position of feet
- High work ethics
- Manners (say haram in case of…)
- Points of discussion: food, perfumes, medicines, family, multiple cell phones
- Critical thinking is welcome within politeness
Dislikes of UAE nationals
- Staring / long eye contact
- Discussing religion or politics with people they don’t know or trust well enough
- Profanity and poor jokes
- Cool and practical are female traits
Saudi business and social etiquette
- Saudi nationals can be affective and loud
- Do enough eye contact
- Saudis are shrewd negotiators
- Many meetings may take place before something substantive may come out
- Build confidence and trust. Business is between friends first
- Meeting usually ends with an invite for hot drinks; an indication of future meetings
- Reliance on God
- Brief contracts (to maintain an allowance for future changes)
- History of country or city
- Discussing religion
Indian managers agree that companies’ main concern should be making profits. They rated harming the environment as more dishonest than did their US counterparts. Indians rely more on intuition and on relational attributes of specific cases (e.g., assessment of who is involved in a particular situation). Indian managers consider unconditional loyalty to their organization a highly ethical behavior, being in this respect similar to the Chinese, and significantly different from respondents from the US, Europe, and Australia.
Indian business and social etiquette
- Indian nationals expect relationship-oriented business with savvy, honorable and trusted partners
- Prefer to deal with top decision-maker
- They’re witty
- Prefer people who show emotions in words, not in agitation or touching
- Social banter awaiting cue from principal to talk business
- Be genial, warm, talk about family stuff or self at first to connect and make them identify with you
- Earn their respect and liking
- New generations have more contemporary social inclinations
- They make decisions based on intuition and facts
- They’re moderately animated and emotionally expressive in a business environment
- You need to understand their needs
- Be solicitous, reasonable and flexible
- Indian managers are mostly experimenters
- They show respect and humility in general to the listener
- Indians are reluctant to criticize because of fear of bad karma
- They show respect and humility in general to the listener
- Reluctant to criticize because of fear of bad karma
- Willing to listen at length but do not misunderstand their sagacity
- Very skilled negotiators because they listen and are patient
- Dislike sarcasm and irony
- Show in general a high degree of interest in good corporate governance
- Purity is valued as is humility and self-denial
- Indirect eye contact
- They prefer limited banter at start
Points of interest
- Family values
- Archeology and culture
- Savviness and honor
- Impact of Indian business community on the local economy
- Ideology when talking business
- Personal questions
The Anglo-Saxon Cluster includes the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK). These countries represent one cluster (high individualism, low uncertainty avoidance) where ethical business cultures are based on the alignment between formal structures, processes, policies, formal training and development programs, and consistent value-based ethical behavior of top leadership. Personal moral development and authentic behavior of leaders is perceived as an important factor in creating the ethical culture of an organization. Significant attention is paid to the development and enforcement of codes of ethics and formal compliance programs. There is a strong emphasis on the development of ethics- based mission and value statements, and the alignment of corporate values with all other elements of the culture and day-to-day operations of the organization.
In China, business ethics practices are strongly influenced by Confucianism (Compassion, Appropriateness, Norms, and Wisdom) to deliberately develop a corporate culture with uniquely Chinese characteristics. CEOs display leadership approaches, based on Confucian principles of “benevolence, harmony, learning, loyalty, righteousness, and humility, which emphasize the central importance of the Confucian moral principle of trustworthiness. Specific examples from business practice, suggest that, in keeping with Confucian principles, Chinese business people rely less on formal contracts, and prefer to rely on individual informal agreements and personal assessment of the trustworthiness of business partners.
The Japanese value system stresses the importance of harmony in contrast with the stronger emphasis on benevolence in China. This leads to “greater emphasis on ‘situational ethics’ in Japanese society, where the emphasis on group harmony largely eliminates the search for absolute values, and in effect, individual responsibility beyond conformity to group norms. Japanese managers tend to be more situational in their ethical decision making than Americans. In addition, company policies on business ethics are the most important determinant of whether managers will make ethical decisions.
Countries of Continental Western Europe pointed out that, due to significant cultural-historical differences among countries of Europe, it is impossible to make generalizations about business ethics approaches in Western Europe as a whole. France and Germany belong to a different cluster than the UK, and as having moderate individualism and high uncertainty avoidance. Europe places less emphasis on corporate codes of ethics, but more emphasis on strengthening the overall legal framework for business conduct. Companies in Europe do not receive strong incentives from governments to promote business ethics-related programs, while in the US, state guidelines provide reduced fines for violators, who had effective ethics programs in place.
German companies were less inclined to introduce formal ethics programs than their US counterparts. German managers tend to be more particularistic in their outlook and view American business ethics as excessively legalistic. The US legalistic emphasis on corporate codes of ethics is rooted in the culturally-conditioned belief in procedural justice, and in maintaining a level playing field for all. This view corresponds to universalism (defined as a strong belief that laws and rules apply to all equally, regardless of specific circumstances, which contrasts with the particularistic assumption that rules can be interpreted more loosely based on specifics of a situation and the nature of relationships with involved people). German businessmen feel that this kind of business ethics does not have much to do with ethics at all since it “only” aims at legal compliance. Ethical behavior goes further than legal behavior.
Some of the numerous problems facing Latin America (including Brazil and Mexico) include low transparency levels in business and politics; excessive consumption and materialism, on the one hand, and high levels of poverty, on the other. There is a disconnect in private domains values of the Roman Catholic Church and business practices. Brazilian managerial culture is characterized by paternalism, power concentration, and loyalty to one’s in-group and leader. Social ethics is based on the strong preference for social cohesion, which is cemented by loyalty to the group leader. The leader, on the other hand, is responsible for each group member’s well-being. This web of reciprocal obligations could lead to both positive and negative outcomes. On the positive side, it can result in high performance on the part of individual employees if they feel loyalty to the group and the leader; on the other hand, such loyalty is associated with a strong fear of making a damaging to the collective mistake, thus reducing creativity and innovation. Another cultural trait is flexibility. Flexibility in business reflects a realization that “there is an 'intermediary path' between what is and what is not allowed”. There is a special way of managing obstacles in order to find a way out of bureaucracy; it’s a way to find the middle path between what is allowed by numerous laws and regulations, and what is practically possible and makes sense. There’s an adaptation mechanism which allows individuals and businesses to function despite the rigid and stifling legislative environment, massive bureaucracy, paternalistic management systems, and the oligarchic economic structure, dominated by powerful hereditary clans.
HOW TO SIZE PEOPLE UP AND SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE.
A breakdown of personality types by nationality is available here – press this link.
HOW TO COMMUNICATE WITH MILLENNIALS.
1. They appreciate honesty.
2. They want to be heard.
Millennials want to be a part of the decision-making process ... now. Those in leadership should expect that millennials will be highly forthcoming when asked their thoughts on a particular decision
3. They’re looking for upward movement.
No self-respecting millennial wants to sit back and wait for that dream job to arrive, even if long-term chances for a promotion at the current workplace are good. In most cases, millennials are looking for upward movement, and they don’t expect it to take a lifetime.
4. They want to speak to top-level leaders.
Millennials are an increasingly confident bunch, and they’re always looking to get to the source. Whether it involves a major decision, a new project, or a simple desire to get to know their managers better, millennials want to communicate with top-level leaders whenever possible.
5. They like feedback and constructive criticism.
Feedback and constructive criticism are vital to professional development, and millennials are unusually open to this dynamic. Most millennials thrive on a quick back-and-forth with the manager or CEO, as they know it will improve individual and business performance.
Millennials don’t like to go through the motions blindly, so they’ll want to know how they’re doing. If you’re not steering them in the right direction with accurate feedback, they will easily lose interest and become disengaged.
6. Millennials communicate their needs. Just ask.
Millennials strongly believe that their needs matter, and they aren’t afraid to speak up. Perhaps they need more time to finish a project or could use a personal day.
7. They want success for everyone involved.
Millennials are more globally connected and intuitively collaborative than their predecessors.
8. They appreciate quick wit.
Perhaps as a result of the social unrest and political turmoil in many parts of the world, millennials are a generation that particularly values humor and quick wit. In their exchanges, millennials rely on puns, sarcasm, and jokes to underscore their points and to relieve the tension of long workdays.
9. They favor a liberal bias.
Today’s generation is one of the most progressive in many decades, and they favor a liberal bias. Most millennials have absolutely no time for language or policies that offend or discriminate.
10. Millennials equate newer with better.
Looking to really grab the attention of millennials? Give them the latest and greatest in technology.
11. They prefer optimism.
In previous business cultures, a dour demeanour was often equated with determination, gravity, and leadership skill. However, negative outlooks are no longer embraced by younger generations.
12. They thrive on passion and excitement.
13. They respond to stories and anecdotes.
14. They prefer 24/7 availability.
Because of their high-energy, hyper-connected work style, millennials often prefer to set their own schedules.
15. Millennials juggle multiple conversations.
16. They’re not into face-to-face communication.
Due to their penchant for multitasking and digital technology, many millennials would prefer to work remotely if possible and use business communication tools.
17. They prefer written communication.
Most millennials would rather leave the telephone untouched and streamline their workload using written communication methods. Sending out a message via email or instant messaging is a quick, effective way to get in touch with someone. Written communication through a social intranet also enables millennials to assign a project without losing any details – and all of the information can be recalled later. This helps when keeping track of project updates because everyone involved is accountable.
18. Millennials think in terms of "social".
Many of today’s best intranet platforms place focus on the "social" aspects. Because many millennials grew up with Facebook, Twitter, and similar platforms, they think in terms of "social" ... and it has made an impact on how they communicate.
19. They’re mobile and highly connected.
20. Millennials respond well to media.
21. They’re short and to the point.
Sometimes particular projects or issues require deep discussions in order to analyze processes, tasks, and resources. However, these discussions can often veer off topic, wasting time and money.
22. They have their own lingo.
23. They like to use abbreviations.
Unless it’s email or a PowerPoint presentation, long-form writing isn’t an integral skill these days. Few millennials do meaningful, longer-form writing at work. Of those who do write longer reports, few do so on a monthly or less frequent basis.
24. Producing presentations is key
Producing presentations is a meaningful part of millennials’ job responsibilities. Two-thirds report that they present on a daily or weekly basis — so it’s no surprise that in-person presentations is the top skill they hope to improve.
25. Data visualization is the wave of the future
26. Reduce the portion size of every communication you create.
27. Don't lecture; converse
Lose that imperious, from-on-high tone and replace it with a friendly, conversational voice. You know what I mean: Write the way you'd speak to a colleague or even a friend.
28. Increase participation
29. Move from describing (words) to showing (visual).
30. Answer these essential questions: "What does this mean to me?" and "What do I need to do differently?"
31. Provide how-to information that will help employees solve a problem, learn what to do in certain situations and make their lives easier.
32. Millennials prefer short messages, preferably delivered via text message.
The funny memes about people not answering their phones and demanding friends send them a text instead? They aren’t joking. Text messages (or instant messages) are the most preferred method of communication for millennials, followed by email, social media, telephone, and in-person conversations. Millennials like the instantaneous nature of texting, plus the fact that they can send or receive messages anywhere and at any time. Also, unlike phone calls or face-to-face conversations, text messages give the sender a bit more “thought time” to figure out what to say.
33. They still like emails … for less urgent communications.
Emails give users more time to respond (i.e., a few hours). Plus, they can say more when there are fewer space or other formatting limitations.
34. Be sure what you say is meaningful.
In other words, make it clear not only what skill is important, but also why it’s important. Telling a millennial that he or she needs to change his or her “too casual” style of communication (e.g., too terse, informal, slang, etc.) is not enough. You need to tell him or her why it needs to change (e.g., that it’s inappropriate to use with a particular colleague, client, or customer he or she is communicating with).
35. Provide training in smaller chunks.
Decades ago (four decades to be specific), flagship workshops were two days in length! This approach has long since been abandoned. Today, most workshops are a half-day in length and some of executive coaching sessions are two hours. When you think of providing training opportunities for millennials, think in terms of multiple, but shorter, sessions.
36. Beware of “lectures.”
The best training is interactive or includes such things as on-camera practice or other learning-by-doing activities. (Millennials are especially into gaming – perhaps an outgrowth of their fascination with video games.) Firms are better advised to use videos extensively. Millennials are among those in the “television generation;” they are quite comfortable with seeing themselves practice on video.
37. Address blind spots.
Most companies assume their employees know how to communicate effectively – that they learned these skills in school or at a previous company. Wrong! Consider the following: Have you ever been taught how to craft a powerful, effective presentation? What about PowerPoint? Most people misuse it, so it’s unlikely they have ever had a tutorial on it. Handling Q&A? Managing presentation stress? Unless someone seeks out accurate information on these topics (few people do), he or she must rely on what they see inside the company.
38. Partake in Mobile Communication
Millennials love their phones. Their phones are constantly in their hands, as if it were a permanent attachment. They check their phones immediately when they wake up, the phone is given more attention than actual people at the dinner table, and their phone stores almost all of their entertainment. Their phone is a very important asset for them.
39. Leverage the Power of Social Media
40. Demonstrate You Understand Their Values
Millennials will only do business with those that understand their values. Among these values are: connections, experiences, purpose, encouragement, and innovation. Your company has to communicate its understanding of these values and illustrate that it considers them to be very important within its culture. Your company should have millennials as employees who are in a position of leadership. It shows your millennial consumers that you trust their ability to perform and make decisions. Their generation is constantly being talked down upon, so it gives them great satisfaction when people are willing to give them a chance to prove themselves.
41. Don’t be so Serious
Millennials understand that life is serious, but that doesn’t mean that they want to be so serious that they can’t have fun. Being too serious stifles their creativity and freedom, two things that they absolutely need to function well. Once their positive vibe is smothered, they tune out and become less productive. Show that your brand is all about fun and enjoyment. Add humor into your marketing messages and illustrate that you love for your consumers to enjoy life. Don’t make business strictly business – it has to make people feel excited to be a part of it. It may seem odd in a professional environment, but adding a bit of humor or playfulness to your communication is the best way to get a millennial’s attention. Overly stuffy or formal messages aren’t generally met with enthusiasm, and may be met with resentment.
42. Avoid generation-specific strategies
While it may be tempting for enterprises to employ a specific communications strategy especially designed for their millennial customers, this is not necessarily the most effective approach. Over a quarter of the businesses used a specific strategy when communicating with millennials, but these companies experience higher churn rates than the 45% of businesses that chose to vary their strategy based on the purpose of the communication, rather than on demographics. By isolating millennials as a different group, and creating a bespoke strategy that treats them all the same, enterprises risk missing out on the individual preferences that make each customer unique. For instance, millennials may generally prefer electronic channels, but by only using these channels businesses could risk the loyalty of the many millennial customers who still want printed communications because they like to keep a hard copy for their records. Millennials also like to take ownership of communications, choosing when and how to interact with businesses, and implementing a specific one-size-fits-all customer communications strategy for the entire demographic may restrict their choice of communication channels.
43. Put the customer at the centre
Customer centricity is not just the answer to communicating with millennials, it is the answer to communicating with all generations. What millennials really want is a personalised, seamless experience that works across all communication channels, but this should be something businesses strive to provide across their entire customer base, not just one specific age group. Millennials’ requirements are changing the market as a whole, and customer communications are becoming strategically – rather than operationally – driven. Communications strategies must be tailored to the purpose of the message and the personal preferences of the individual customer, not to generic perceptions of a generation. All communications – regardless of demographic – should be relevant, personalised, channel-sensitive, and timely.
44. Adopt cloud-based communications
As businesses become ever-more reliant on their digital customer communications strategy to deliver personalised, channel-agnostic communications that support individual preferences, it is clear outdated legacy systems can’t keep up with evolving preferences. Many enterprises find making the necessary improvements to digitise their on-premises systems – for instance updating layout and design, introducing mobile app capabilities, and enabling synchronisation across touchpoints – requires too much investment. Cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) models provide an effective alternative, as they are quick and simple to implement, as well as flexible enough to grow and evolve with ever-changing customer communications requirements and the shifting needs of the customer.
Although millennials do have distinct communication preferences, and a marked predilection for digital interactions, they are still unique individuals, and businesses should treat them as such. By taking a customer centric-approach that tailors strategy to the individual and the purpose of the message, as well as adopting agile cloud-based communications solutions, enterprises can benefit from relevant, personalised interactions with their entire customer base, including the ever-more influential millennial generation
knowing that, today’s female leaders have a responsibility to learn how to communicate with millennials, and to adjust their communication style to meet their needs.
45. Millennials prefer one topic at a time.
Millennials tend to become overwhelmed by too much information, and will literally shut down. Communication should remain focused on one topic at a time, with meeting agendas clearly defined and focused on specific items.
46. Millennials want context.
It’s not enough to tell a millennial what they need to do — you need to explain why. You need to express clear expectations, and explain why you are giving them the information or task. It might feel like handholding, but taking the time to make these connections helps maintain productivity and feelings of loyalty.
47. They multitask well with team members.
Millennials are excellent multitaskers by nature, so take advantage of their skills. Most have grown up in a world where the text messaging, emailing, social media and phone conversations are handled simultaneously. They’ve become multitasking experts by the time they enter the workforce.
48. They like written communication.
Managing multiple projects and tasks at once can be overwhelming, even for a seasoned veteran. Millennials have streamlined written communication, bypassing telephone conversations altogether. Sending out messages via instant messaging or email is an easy and efficient way to get in touch. Choosing to communicate through these methods also allows for easy project tracking; a millennial can at any time return to the message, recalling project details and deadlines with ease. But this trend for digital communications isn’t just restricted to peer-to-peer interactions – it also extends to business communications. Many millennials would rather communicate with car dealers via messaging apps, SMS, email, and social media than by phone. In addition, most millennials would rather do their financial planning via a smartphone than face-to-face. Millennials have particular preferences when communicating with enterprise companies, favouring electronic channels such as mobile apps, web portals, and emails. They are happy to communicate via multiple different channels and can hold several conversations simultaneously, but expect joined-up experiences and instant responses. Millennials constitute a considerable share of companies’ customer base and an even larger share of revenue percentage, so how should businesses adapt their customer communications strategy to meet the needs of this vital demographic?
GROWTH OF PRIVATE LABELS.
Few top international brands are native to Developing Economies
A small number of internationally-recognized brands are produced in Developing Economies
A top brand's country of origin
Number of Top 100 brands 2006
Number of Top 100 brands 2005
The growth of private labels as an alternative.
Private labels are growing fast due to constraints on household budgets.
- Private brands are 40% cheaper than imported ones
- Inflation is pressuring household budgets, forcing them to save
- Major supermarket chains are expanding fast all over the region
When customers trust a producer's name, chances are high they'll trust that producer's private labels:
- 82% of shopping trips in the UK included purchases of private brands
- 45% of Swiss shoppers purchase private labels
- 43% of the global milk sales value went to private labels
- 17% of global FMCG sales value went to private labels
- 68% of consumers worldwide agree that 'private brands are a good alternative to other brands'.
Global private label shares and growth rates by product area:
Sales growth 04-05
Paper, plastics, and wraps
Diapers and feminine hygiene
Snacks and confectionery