The Philippines at a Glance
Doing Business in the PhilippinesiStockphoto
Makati is one of Manila's major business districts.
Foreign business people who are used to a rather egalitarian way of doing business may at first be put off by the hierarchies prevalent in Filipino companies. The strong sense of hierarchy in businesses within the Philippines may even show in seating arrangements throughout meetings.
The different working relationships and roles of individual employees often reflect the structure of the Philippine family. The boss plays a paternalistic role and creates a hierarchical management. In this type of business world, a high status, mutual respect and a good reputation are essential when doing business. Thus, age and status demand high levels of respect.
In the Philippines, doing business is a highly personal endeavor. If you plan to close a business deal in the Philippines or are even getting ready to invest, you should bring enough time and patience. A personal introduction through a friend or business associate is essential to establish a relationship with your business partners. Keep in mind that, in the Philippines, a successful business relationship is based on personal contact, human interaction, and trust.
As mentioned before, Filipinos are incredibly status-conscious and the use of formal titles is considered an important way of showing respect to your business partners and colleagues. Unlike in other Asian countries, the exchange of business cards is not overly formalized, albeit still being important. You should, of course, try to present and receive business cards with both hands. Include your title and your position on your business cards to emphasize the influence and status you may have.
When you begin to work in the Philippines, there are a few guidelines you should try to follow in order to not alienate your colleagues or business partners. All in all, it takes time to establish a strong business relationship. Try to be patient while you stick to these tips on business etiquette:
- Try to avoid direct or continuous eye contact as staring is considered incredibly rude and confrontational.
- Have easy-going conversations with your Filipino colleagues before and after meetings and try to establish a personal relationship with them. Get ready to be asked a lot of personal questions.
- Both men and women should always dress appropriately and conservatively at work and during meetings. Dressing well and being proud to do so is a vital part of gaining respect in the Philippines.
- Don’t be surprised when business negotiations take longer than expected as the pace of doing business is quite slow in the Philippines.
- Make sure not to underestimate the influence of the family unit and the effect it has on doing business.
- Don’t raise your voice or interrupt your business partners as it shows a severe lack of respect.