Why is Singapore so culturally strict

Business etiquette Singapore

Singapore is a modern city that can compete in every respect with world cities like New York, Chicago or Paris. The architecture, the many international corporations and modern life seem to be just as influenced by the West as ours. At first glance, it might seem easy for you to do business in this city-state with its glittering skyline. However, you must not forget that Singapore belongs to China and thus to the Far East.

Security and a high standard of living

Although the quality of life and income are high and Singapore is one of the most important commercial, economic and financial centers in the world, the culture of the Far East dominates. A highly modern and international business world does not mean that the culture of the respective country is left out and business people move outside of common customs, cultures, etiquette and rituals. Singapore is a small city-state with an area of ​​700 square kilometers, home to five million people. The pavement is correspondingly expensive in this city. About 7,500 Germans live here. 13 percent of the population come from Malaysia and one in ten has Indian roots. The rest of the residents are from Singapore. The predominant culture is a mixture of different Asian influences, it is not only the Chinese culture that dominates. This potpourri of different nationalities carries certain risks. Singapore is one of the countries with the strictest jurisdiction in the world. From the western point of view, judgments and punishments are often draconian and seemingly unjust. The police presence is small, but the surveillance state is all the more active, because there are cameras on every corner that document public life almost completely. In Singapore, people are transparent and strict jurisprudence is the common denominator on which all cultures agree and which enjoys general acceptance. The safety standard on the streets of Singapore is high by international standards. Tourists or business people can move around the streets of Singapore at night much safer than the streets of New York or Chicago. While individuality, democracy, personal responsibility and self-responsibility prevail in the western countries, some Far Eastern countries are not yet that advanced, you should always keep that in mind and do not try to want to change this. Teachings about the supposed achievements of democracy are out of place and meet with incomprehension.

No pricing

It is noticeable that women often occupy management positions, a point that positively distinguishes Far Eastern Singapore from some Western countries. The open and direct style of negotiation, valued by Western countries like Germany and North America because “time is money”, is unknown in Singapore and is perceived as impolite. This "cover-up tactic" even goes so far that it is also used in everyday life beyond the business world. If you've been there before, you may have noticed that goods in shop window displays or in stores rarely have a price tag. This tactic also suits the Singaporean culture of never falling in with the door straight away. The parties involved should first have a polite, respectful and constructive conversation in order to get closer and to build trust. From a western point of view, this tactic is associated with a lack of transparency and is also annoying because a direct price comparison is not possible and the counterparty does not know whether they have made a good or bad deal in the end. Labeling everything and everyone and, if possible, evaluating them in comparison portals is simply impossible here.

Preserve your face and each other's

When doing business with Singapore companies, you often don't know who has the final say on your negotiating strategy until the end. Is it the business partner you talked to, or is there a woman in the background who approves your offer? In the Chinese business world, reliability and security are the top priorities. If you show insecurity, nervousness or a lack of self-confidence, you have already lost, because the Chinese side associates a lack of competence with these characteristics. Chinese culture has an excessive respect for the elderly, whether in personal or business life. Sometimes it doesn't hurt if you point out who's the boss. You have to perform the trick of being confident and consistent on the one hand in order to be taken seriously by the other side, but on the other hand acting so cautiously that your counterpart does not lose face. Because in all Asian cultures the top priority is that nobody loses face due to the behavior of someone else. We shed light on other interesting aspects of Asian culture in our second part.