Sunday, April 26, 2009

Local Custom and Ettiquette Guidelines

It is made up of over 17,500 islands (6,000 of which are inhabited) which are home to over 300 local ethnic groups, each province has its own culture, language and beliefs, other major ethnics are Chinese and Indian. Although Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world it also has a large number of Christian Protestants, Catholics, Hindus (in Bali) and Buddhists (mostly are Chinese). Major ethnics that live in Jakarta are Javanese, Bataknese, Sundanese, Padang, Chinese and Indian.

Meeting and Greeting
A handshake is the most common greeting accompanied with the word "Apa Kabar (How are you?)". Many Indonesians may place their hands on their heart after shaking your hand to show our respect. Many Indonesians, especially those from Java, may have had an extremely long name, which was shortened into a sort of nickname for everyday conversation. There are several ethnic groups in Indonesia. Most have adopted Indonesian names over the years, while some retain the naming conventions of their ethnicity.
Gift Giving Etiquette
Gift giving etiquette in Indonesia heavily depends on the ethnicity of the receiver..
Here are some general gift giving guidelines:

Gift giving etiquette for the Chinese:
It is considered polite to verbally refuse a gift before accepting it. This shows that the recipient is not greedy or also known as "Basa Basi", so don't take this either way. Gifts should be wrapped up with nice paper and not opened when received.

Gift giving etiquette for Indonesian (local ethnic):
Any food substance should be "halal" - things that are not halal include anything with alcoholic ingredients or anything with pork derivatives such as gelatine. Halal meat means the animal has been slaughtered according to Islamic principles.

Gift giving etiquette for ethnic Indians:
Offer gifts with the right hand only. Wrap gifts in red, yellow or green paper or other bright colors as these bring good fortune.Do not give leather products to a Hindu and food substance also has to be "Halal",ingredients are not contain beef meat.

Dining Etiquette
Dining etiquette is generally relaxed but depends on the setting and context. The more formal the occasion the more formal the behaviour. Below are some basic dining etiquette tips.
1.Food is often taken from a shared dish in the middle, to take out food from the shared dish use different spoon and fork that placed on the shared dish.
2.Informal occasions Indonesians love to use their hands to eat but this also depends on what kind of restaurant. Fine dining? of course not, more likely on restaurant that serves Padang or Sundanese food or event Kentucky, McDonald's. They claim it is easier to use hands to eat Chicken. Point taken.

Business Cards
Business cards are normally exchanged after the initial handshake and greeting. Business cards should display your title. This helps enhance your image and credibility and also could change the way people treat you. Well unless if you are Caucasian, suddenly the credibility just popped out. Give/accept cards using two hands with a little bow and examine a business card you receive before putting it on the table next to you or in a business card case. If you were in a big meeting with several participants, try to placed the business card on the table accordingly to where the participants are seated. This helps you not to forget their names, trust me Indonesian names are freakishly long and hard to remember and we are using first name basis.

What to Wear?
Business attire depends on what industry are they in of course for banker business attire is formal, shirt with a tie and a blazer, creative industry such as advertising, publishing, are more casual, some company allowed their employee to wear jeans.

Communication Style
Indonesians are indirect communicators. Dealing with someone face-to-face is the only effective way of doing business. If you offend them, they will mask their feelings and maintain a veil of civility.

Business Meetings
Initial meetings may be more about getting-to-know-you rather than business. Do not be surprised if business is not even discussed, this was how I get 60% of my business deals, through cups of coffee. "Jam Karet" (rubber time) describes the Indonesian approach to time, thanks to Jakarta awful traffic that is unpredictable. Please aware not to put business meeting on Friday noon, male moslems have to do "Sholat Jumat" or "Friday Worship/Pray" in mosques from 11.30 until 12.30.


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