Serious business

Etiquette tips for doing business in Bangladesh

Tips for doing business in Bangladesh. Words by DESMOND SO, illustrations by A YIP

Attire

Etiquette-1

Suits for men are standard, while women should wear business suits or dresses. Bangladesh is a Muslim country, but women are not expected to cover their heads. Less formal (and cooler) attire, like short sleeves without a tie, is acceptable in some settings. Observe your local counterparts, or ask them.

Greetings

Etiquette-4

Men should shake hands with women only if the woman initiates; if she does not, a nod and a smile are acceptable. Personal space is a relative concept: the closer someone gets to you physically, the closer they feel to you. Physical touching between men is common in less formal settings; take it as a sign of success in relationship-building.

Meetings

Etiquette-5

Punctuality is expected but not always reciprocated. Once begun, the meeting may run past the planned time because completion of business takes precedence over staying on schedule. Initial meetings are meant to establish relationships; expect small talk. Meetings are led by the most senior person in attendance.

Business Cards

Etiquette-2

Offer your card with the right hand. Read every card you are given, showing attention to the details, and store it respectfully. Bangladeshis offer (and receive) cards freely, so make sure you have a lot on hand. Don’t be surprised if Bangladeshis offer to show you the cards of others to inform you of their social circles and contacts.

Faux Pas

Etiquette-3

Don’t expose the soles of your feet (or shoes) at people, and don’t point with your feet. Being too direct, no matter how honest, will not be well-received. Instead of saying no, someone is more likely to say something is difficult or requires more thought. Ask questions to diminish uncertainty.

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