18 Jan Top 5 Tips for Proper Singapore Etiquette
Top 5 Tips for Proper Etiquette in Singapore
Singapore has an extremely varied cultural and ethnic background. While the immense diversity can be exciting, it’s also important to be familiar with a few commonplace rules of Singapore etiquette. Don’t stress if you have a slip up! Singaporeans are quite friendly and will recognize you are a foreigner.
- Singapore is an Ethnic Conglomerate.
The 3 main ethnic groups in Singapore are Chinese, Indian and Malay. With such a rich and varied cultural background, comes an equally varied set of cultural customs and norms. It’s important to know the background of who you are interacting with, in order to avoid an etiquette faux pas.
- Body Language Trumps Verbal Communication
Mandarin, Malay, Tamil and English are the most widely spoken languages in Singapore. With such a mix in language, it’s no wonder non-verbal communication carries so much weight. The head, for example, is considered sacred, so touching another’s head or gesturing towards your own can cause offense. Similarly, never show the soles of your feet and always keep them firmly planted while seated.
- Respect Your Elders
Elders are held in the highest esteem in Singapore. Always greet the most elder person present first. While there are a variety of ways to greet a person, a simple handshake and slight bow is widely accepted, especially in the business world.
- Chopsticks, Halal, Vegetarianism, Oh My!
Your dining experience will likely depend on the cultural background of your host. For example, Malays are largely Muslim, so meat will be strictly halal, no pork and alcohol is forbidden. Indians practicing Hinduism or Sikhism avoid beef, alcohol and eat typically vegetarian meals. For Chinese, alcohol is not prohibited, but should only be drunk if your host is drinking as well. Start practicing your chopstick skills now, as improper use is considered poor etiquette!
- Get to the point.
Singaporeans are very straightforward, even in matters of finance. While Singaporeans are considerate in their decision-making process; they can also be quick to make up their minds. No need to beat around the bush in conversation; just get to the point.
Want to read another blog post involving Singapore and doing business in South East Asia? – Check out our blog post covering Singapore Internship Business Etiquette and how to properly conduct yourself in a business setting in Singapore as an intern.
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