Doing Business In Indonesia
Fear of loss of face and a great need for harmony, especially whilst establishing important personal relationships in business, is one reason why Indonesians tend to communicate rather indirectly.
This communication style is characterised by soft and implicit phrasing which preserves a good atmosphere at any time. In a very open, heated, confrontational and solely fact-based debate, however, Indonesians often quickly feel cornered. They experience a loss of face and as a direct consequence sometimes even terminate talks.
In the same way, direct criticism, even if it only refers to the facts, quickly upsets harmony and can lead to loss of face on both sides. At worst, business contacts in their initial phase or even long-term collaborations are revoked completely. Once the personal relationship is damaged, the working relationship can no longer be maintained.
Circular Course Of Conversation
Characteristic for their relationship-orientation is also the fact that Indonesians are inclined to a circular course of conversation: topics are raised, dropped and picked up again at a later stage. This is primarily exercised when it comes to important and difficult subjects which can quickly lead to disagreement and a disruption of the harmony. As soon as the dust has settled, the sensitive issues are brought up again.
Yes Or No?
Knowing this, it is not surprising that you will rarely hear a direct “no” in Indonesia; instead, Indonesians use numerous alternative ways of communicating refusal in a more polite manner and without loss of face. Consequently, a “yes” does not always equal approval, but can be meant as goodwill so as not to offend the negotiating partner.
All in all, the Indonesian style of communication can be quite a challenge for business people visiting from abroad for the first time. However, once they have gained a deeper understanding of the Indonesian business culture in general, finding the right words and understanding indirect phrases correctly becomes a lot easier.
Videos Business Culture Indonesia
Our FREE intercultural business videos focus on what really matters when doing business in Indonesia. Prepare for diverse international business situations within minutes.
Online Coaching Indonesia
Do you have a specific question in mind? Are you going to work and live in Indonesia? Our Indonesia coaches are highly qualified experts in their field with many years of work experience in Indonesia.
From managing international teams to sealing a deal with Indonesian business partners to relocating to Indonesia as an expatriate – whatever situation you need to deal with, your personal coach will be there to guide you through it!
Are You And Your New Country A Match?
Living abroad but not yet fitting in? Moving country soon? Take the Global DISC Assessment and deep dive into your personality traits and cultural orientation.
- Stop leaving things to chance and find your feet in a different country.
- Eliminate the exhaustion of living and working abroad.
- Succeed anywhere in the world.
- Feel empowered and confident.