On this article, we offer a short explainer on enterprise etiquette in Bangladesh and ideas for enterprise interactions within the nation. Previous to that, we spotlight key options of Bangladesh, together with its location, local weather, panorama, and cultural and social traits.
The article is a part of our ongoing protection of Bangladesh’s economic system, enterprise, and commerce setting, which is gaining prominence on the radar of many Asia-focused buyers. Earlier articles have mentioned the nation’s supply chain advantage, defined the legal entity options for foreign investors, addressed the fundamentals of opening a bank account right here, and detailed the intellectual property protections accessible.
Location and inhabitants
Bangladesh is a small nation of roughly 148,000 sq. km positioned in South Asia. Its neighbors embody India to the west, north, and northeast and Myanmar within the southeast, and it’s surrounded by the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean within the south.
Regardless of its dimension, Bangladesh is house to 164 million individuals, making it one of the vital densely populated international locations on this planet.
Local weather and geography
The local weather is tropical, so it’s sizzling and humid for many of the 12 months, with a monsoon season from June to October, and a gentle winter which see temperatures get barely decrease. Throughout the monsoon season, it rains virtually day-after-day. The soil is extremely wealthy and fertile because of the nation primarily being a big river delta.
Fifty-seven rivers, fashioned by the snowmelt of the Himalayan mountain vary to the north, carry sediment filled with minerals all through the land on their means all the way down to the Bay of Bengal. Individuals rely closely on these rivers for meals, agriculture, and transportation, so naturally, they play a task in Bangladesh’s arts, tradition, and delicacies too.
Bangladesh is a Much less Economically Developed Nation, so poverty is ubiquitous. In 2016, the proportion of the inhabitants dwelling on lower than US $5.50 (2011 PPP) per day was about 84 p.c, in response to the World Financial institution. T
Nonetheless, the nation has been on a gentle path to progress. It has a aggressive funding local weather, comparatively massive and younger labor market, and is bold to develop its agribusiness, garment and textiles, power, IT, and infrastructure sectors – for which it’s closely courting international buyers and establishing particular financial zones.
The nation’s shopper economic system additionally provides rising prospects, and Bangladesh’s GDP per capital revenue registered a 9 p.c progress in 2020.
The nation has a wealthy cultural heritage, each up to now as a part of the Bengal area and after its independence in 1971. Whereas the nation was based on a secular structure, the Islamic religion has a powerful affect on public life attributable to its predominance – 90 p.c of the Bangladeshi inhabitants identifies as Muslim. The remaining inhabitants practices Hinduism, Buddhism, or Christianity.
The inhabitants is comparatively homogenous – with about 98 p.c being ethnically Bengali.
Utilizing indicators based mostly on Geert Hofstede’s widespread mannequin for understanding cultural variations, we will acknowledge the next features of Bangladesh society and cultural norms:
- Hierarchy within the office: Bangladesh has a excessive diploma of inequality and people in society typically settle for their place. As such, inside organizations, subordinates anticipate to be advised what to do by their superiors and superiors anticipate to be acknowledged and saved knowledgeable by their subordinates. When doing enterprise, it might be obligatory to speak immediately with the leaders of a company to resolve points. When interacting with these leaders, it is very important stay tactful and respectful, and chorus from overtly and explicitly difficult them. Disagreements needs to be dealt with privately. This ties into “the idea of face”.
- Work tradition and avoidance of ambiguity in social relations and outcomes: Points usually tend to be resolved by means of assertiveness and the exertion of 1’s affect, reasonably than by means of compromise and cooperation, and there’s extra more likely to be a tradition of working lengthy hours. Persons are resistant in the direction of change and dangerous conduct however are nonetheless amenable sufficient. There are lots of inflexible social conventions to watch, and Bangladeshi society is usually conservative. Moreover, it is not uncommon observe to verbally specific feelings, together with unfavourable ones like anger, as a result of individuals need to preserve management of conditions.
- Collectivist society: Bangladesh is a decidedly collectivist society. Right here, people are seen as being answerable for members of their bigger teams, together with prolonged relations and family members, buddies, and even staff. Loyalty to individuals trumps loyalty to guidelines, concepts, and establishments. Bangladeshis normally reside in multigenerational households with prolonged relations. Moreover, given the ubiquity of poverty, members of the center class and above typically have live-in home staff. This sort of dwelling association each stems from and reinforces the sensation of belonging to a bigger group for which one is accountable.
- Tradition of restraint: Bangladesh has a tradition of restraint. Right here, individuals have a tendency to organize for wet days, and thus, are typically extra inflexible and restrained of their conduct. The ambiance in conferences tends to be extra critical, and jokes and heated discussions are usually saved for extra casual settings.
Enterprise etiquette and ideas
Bengali, often called “Bangla,” to natives, is the official state language and spoken by greater than 98 p.c of the inhabitants. Nevertheless, because of the recognition of Western and Indian media, many Bangladeshis can even converse English and Hindi.
In enterprise settings, most Bangladeshis can converse English. Interactions are typically initiated with “Good day”, “How are you?”, or “Salam”. In case you are up for a problem, the everyday Bengali greeting is “As-salamu alaykum”, which suggests “could peace be upon you” in Arabic, to which one responds “Wa alaykumu s-salam”, which suggests “could peace be upon you as nicely”.
Contact, within the type of a gentle handshake, is extra frequent amongst members of the identical gender, whereas a well mannered nod is usually exchanged between members of the alternative gender. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a well mannered nod adopted by putting one’s hand over their coronary heart will be the most acceptable non-verbal greeting no matter gender. The proper hand needs to be used to provide and obtain enterprise playing cards.
Enterprise apparel in Bangladesh is usually conservative. Enterprise formal consists of enterprise fits in darkish colors for each genders. Enterprise informal for males features a button-down shirt with slacks or khaki pants, and for girls consists of the normal salwar kameez, or a shirt with a skirt or gown pants. Denims are simply starting to enter the realm of “enterprise informal”, so it’s best to keep away from carrying them in enterprise settings.
Workplaces the place individuals go away their exterior footwear on the door aren’t unusual – that is typically an Asian observe and normally stems from a collective choice on the workplace, reasonably than an imposed requirement for entry.
Enterprise conferences needs to be scheduled prematurely to keep away from scheduling conflicts. The weekend in Bangladesh is on Friday and Saturday, so responses to emails needs to be anticipated accordingly. A translator may very well be useful to have in enterprise conferences to ease language obstacles and be sure that all particulars of the dialog are absolutely understood by each events.
Anticipate a whole lot of small discuss within the first assembly. Establishing familiarity and belief is essential to Bangladeshis and might be attributed to the tradition’s long-term orientation and excessive uncertainty avoidance. As such, it’s doable for your complete first assembly to encompass introductions and for essential choices to be made in subsequent conferences.
When establishing familiarity in a enterprise context, Bangladeshis could ask questions which will appear private to somebody from a extra individualistic tradition, corresponding to questions on one’s household. Nevertheless, inquiring about one’s private life is commonplace and supposed as an expression of friendliness and curiosity in Bangladesh’s collectivist tradition.
As beforehand mentioned, seniority and hierarchy are essential in Bangladesh. As such, essentially the most senior-ranking official usually leads the assembly and makes the choices.
Moreover, the idea of face is essential to be aware of in enterprise conferences. “Face” on this context loosely means “an individual’s repute, dignity, and status”. The place in lots of cultures frank and direct communication is inspired, overt disagreement or criticism in group settings or massive boards might be seen as inflicting a “lack of face” in Bangladesh. Thus, it is very important be as tactful and delicate as doable, significantly if one comes from a tradition the place frankness is inspired. If in case you have constructive criticism to supply, it’s best to debate this in non-public.
Bangladeshis are implicit/oblique communicators, that means they have an inclination to speak in lengthy sentences that typically solely make sense when context and physique language are accounted for. As such, it is very important fastidiously observe the context wherein your Bangladeshi counterpart is talking and pay attention to visible cues, pauses, physique language, and what’s not mentioned, along with what’s. For instance, saying “sure” could merely point out understanding, reasonably than precise settlement, so it’s best to make clear together with your Bangladeshi counterpart whether or not you might have reached an settlement on a deal.
Consuming and ingesting
If invited to a Bangladeshi house, you might be inspired to deliver fruits, pastries, sweets, good high quality goodies, or souvenirs as items. At all times keep in mind to ask about allergy symptoms and dietary restrictions when giving meals as items. Keep away from giving cash, white flowers, animal merchandise and by-products, or alcoholic drinks as items. Current and obtain items both with each fingers or simply the appropriate hand.
Await the host to provide the sign to begin the meal earlier than sampling any of the meals. It’s thought-about good manners to complete all of the meals in your plate. Most individuals eat with their fingers, so make sure you wash your fingers earlier than the meal. In case you are uncomfortable consuming together with your fingers, it’s completely acceptable to ask for utensils. For those who select to eat together with your fingers, solely eat with the appropriate hand – by no means the left.
It’s customary for Bangladeshis to repeatedly insist that their friends have further servings. We advise you to tempo your self when consuming, so as to settle for at the least one such supply, which is seen as being well mannered. To politely decline additional servings, merely say “no, thanks – I’m full” each time.
After the meal, it’s regular to take a seat for a while and make dialog. Dessert is normally served, as Bangladesh is well-known for its conventional sweets and tropical fruits. Alcohol is usually absent because of the prevalence of Islam, which prohibits its consumption.
Not like many cultures, there isn’t any social taboo in opposition to staring in Bangladesh. As such, typically the very first thing one notices in public, significantly if one is a foreigner or carrying good garments, is that they’re being stared at by passers-by.
Bangladeshis typically stand near others in public, even within the case of strangers. In case you are uncomfortable with this, significantly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is best to politely ask if the individual might please stand a bit additional away.
As a result of non secular conservatism, public shows of affection, significantly between romantic companions, are taboo and should appeal to unfavourable consideration.
We suggest exercising warning and remaining vigilant when touring to Bangladesh. At all times seek the advice of your state division’s nation info web page and tips when planning your journey.
Moreover, it’s unwise to wander fully alone. In case you are comparatively new to Bangladesh, we suggest having a trusted advisor, translator, or native contact, who’s conversant in the nation, and touring in teams for tourism functions. Valuables needs to be saved in lodge safes, and cell phones and wallets needs to be saved out of sight to reduce the chance of pick-pocketing, significantly in crowded areas.
We don’t suggest consuming meals from road distributors, as these meals gadgets are completely unregulated. Faucet water can’t be readily consumed – it should be filtered or boiled first. Mosquito repellent could also be required, significantly from June to October, because of the prevalence of the extreme mosquito-borne sickness often called dengue fever throughout this time. Moreover, we suggest avoiding stray canines, of which there are numerous, significantly in city areas, attributable to rabies.
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