Etiquette in Malaysia

Malaysia is made up of three distinct cultures: Malay, Indian and Chinese.  Because of this there are three cultures at work. Therefore, you will encounter different behaviors depending upon who you are speaking with.   There are few common polite behaviors.

It is impolite to disagree openly.  If you want to say “no”, don’t. Say “yes”.  “Yes” can mean many things here; “I agree” or “maybe” or “I don’t know” could be your meaning when agreeing.

Malaysians will only do business with those they know and like.  You will have to take the time and make the effort to get to know personally any business partners you have.  It will take time – most likely many months – but it is the only way to do business there.

Malaysians are normally quiet, calm people so you need to be the same with dealing with them.  If you get frustrated with a situation, excuse yourself until you can calmly discuss the problem.Age and seniority is important to the Malaysians so know the order of precedence and use it.  When making introductions, they should be made with the most senior person introduced first and down the line.

Business cards should be embossed in English.  We also suggest you also translate your information on the reverse side into Chinese (use gold ink as it is the most prestigious for the translation).

Good topics of conversation are travel, food (especially local cuisine), plans for the future and general tourism.  Do not talk about your success as this is considered rude.  Talk instead about the organization’s success.

Malaysia: Dining Etiquette

It is common to eat without utensils, using only your hand. Be sure to use your right hand for eating and passing food, even if you are left-handed. If you are given utensils, you may not be offered a knife.Religious practices affect what is served for dinner. If you are among Muslims at the table, pork will not be served. Is there are Hindus or Buddhists present, beef will not be served.

Do not to blow you nose or clear your throat when dining due to health concerns.

Serving alcoholic drinks is not all that common in Malaysia. Also if you ask for tea, don’t be surprised if milk is already added before it is served. If you do not want milk mixed with your tea, say so when ordering.

When trying to get a waiter’s attention, gesture with your whole hand and not just a single finger.

Malaysia: General Etiquette

Malaysia is made up of three distinct cultures: Malay, Indian and Chinese.  Because of this there are three cultures at work. Therefore, you will encounter different behaviors depending upon who you are speaking with.   There are few common polite behaviors.

It is impolite to disagree openly.  If you want to say “no”, don’t. Say “yes”.  “Yes” can mean many things here; “I agree” or “maybe” or “I don’t know” could be your meaning when agreeing.

Malaysians will only do business with those they know and like.  You will have to take the time and make the effort to get to know personally any business partners you have.  It will take time – most likely many months – but it is the only way to do business there.

Malaysians are normally quiet, calm people so you need to be the same with dealing with them.  If you get frustrated with a situation, excuse yourself until you can calmly discuss the problem.Age and seniority is important to the Malaysians so know the order of precedence and use it.  When making introductions, they should be made with the most senior person introduced first and down the line.

Business cards should be embossed in English.  We also suggest you also translate your information on the reverse side into Chinese (use gold ink as it is the most prestigious for the translation).

Good topics of conversation are travel, food (especially local cuisine), plans for the future and general tourism.  Do not talk about your success as this is considered rude.  Talk instead about the organization’s success.

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