Greetings and Introductions
Singaporeans generally shake their hands when they are first introduced
to a person. Men and women usually greet each other with a handshake.
When making introductions for the first time and in formal meetings
you should always use the person's title and family or personal
Since Singapore is a multi-culture society you need to bear some
of the following points in mind.
- The Chinese
always use their family names first followed by their personal
often keep their own family name. Malays do not use a Family
- They use
their personal name followed by bin (son of) or binti (daughter
of) and their father's personal name.
use their personal name followed by S/O(son of) or D/O (daughter
of) and their fathers' personal name.
As a rule
of thumb never use personal names or nick names unless and until
invited to do so or until a strong friendship has been established.
While meeting your Singaporean contacts the higher ranked and
elder's members should be addressed first.
show great respect for elders. Similar to most of the Asian cultures,
it is very important for you to establish your credibility. If
possible you can have someone in your home/office at Singapore
to introduce so that your credentials could be emphasized. Never
touch, hug or kiss a person of the opposite sex at a business
meeting. Unlike in the West, this could be misinterpreted! Mostly
the written salutations are in the western style like "Dear Mr.
and Eye Contact
You should not get offended if a Singaporean does not look into
your eyes in a meeting. The eyes are cast down or away as a sign
of respect and politeness especially if you are a senior or have
a higher status.
It is common to be greeted with "Have you eaten?" or "Where are
you going?" instead of "Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening" or "How
are you?" Some good topics to start a conversation include food,
scenery, arts, music, and tourist attractions. Subjects like religion,
personal relationships, money, racism, sex, politics and criticism
of bureaucracy should be avoided.
Though Singapore is a multilingual city. The Singaporean Government
uses Mandarin Chinese, and English is used is
widely in use for business purposes.
These are some points to bear in mind before doing
business in Singapore. These points are drawn from common observations:
people are treated with great respect in Singapore.
are generally accepted with a modest denial.
display of too much affection is not appreciated.
- Head should
not be touched in the Singaporean culture as it is believed
that head is the home of the soul.
- Feet are
considered to be dirty for touching any object.
- Care should
be taken while crossing legs: the sole of the foot should never
be pointed out or inadvertently shown to other people.
- When you
are standing and talking to someone, do not put your hands on
your hips since this signifies anger.
- Do not
hit your fist into your other cupped hand; this is an obscene
someone by extending your hand, palm down, and fluttering your
- Cover your
mouth with your hand when you yawn.
- It is considered
rude to blow your nose or clear your throat in public.
- Be aware
of and observe all the local laws and fines for littering, spitting,
- Since most
Malays are Muslims, be aware of specific behaviors that would
offend them. For instance, only use your right hand to shake
hands or hand things to people, since the left hand is considered
- Do not
share food and do not allow the serving cutlery to touch your
plate at communal dinners. Make it a point to wash up both before
and after dinner.
Some Commonly Used Terms
yung ker chi
is your name?