Brunei, officially the Nation of Brunei located Southeast Asia, bordering the South China Sea and Malaysia. The capital city is Bandar Seri Begawan. There are many ethnic in Brunei which are Malay 66.3%, Chinese 11.2%, indigenous 3.4%, other 19.1%. The religion consist of Muslim (official) 67%, Buddhist 13%, Christian 10%, other (includes indigenous beliefs) 10%. There are a multitude of languages spoken in Brunei. The official language of the state of Brunei is Standard Malay. English is also widely used as a business and working language. It is also the language of instruction in secondary and tertiary education. Other languages spoken in Brunei include the Chinese, Indian and Native languages spoken by the minority ethnic groups.
- Bruneian Society and Culture
The family is the focal point of the social structure, so Brunei is a hierarchical culture. Age and position are revered. From a young age, children are taught to subjugate their own desires for the good of the entire family and to respect elders without question.
- The Concept of Face
The role of face, shame and honor is crucial to Bruneians. Consequently they are very polite and well-mannered. Maintaining face is of upmost importance and they do their best not to cause issues or problems which could jeopardize this. In order to maintain face their communication style is very indirect and can come across as somewhat ambiguous to those from a culture where direct communication is the norm. By being indirect Bruneians avoid embarrassing another person, which would cause that person to lose face. Most Bruneians find emotions such as impatience, anger, or irritation embarrassing and try to avoid them since expressing them could result in a loss of face and disharmony.
- Communication Style
Bruneian communication is formal and respectful, especially to those senior in age or position. Hierarchy is revered, so older businesspeople should be greeted before younger ones. As in much of Asia, group harmony is vital. Therefore, the communication style tends to be indirect and somewhat ambiguous. This is done to avoid embarrassing someone or causing either party to lose face. If you are from a more direct culture, you may find the use of evasive responses or insincere yeses frustrating. Most Bruneians find emotions such as impatience, anger, or irritation embarrassing and try to avoid them. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the foreigner to refrain form showing his/her inner feelings. Bruneians commonly ask what would be considered intrusive personal questions such as about wages or the like. If you are uncomfortable discussing such matters, it is important to handle the matter diplomatically so neither party loses face. Such conversations are meant to get to know you as a person, they are not meant to make you uncomfortable. Tone of voice, body language, eye contact and facial expression can often be more important than what is actually said. Therefore, it is important to observe the person as they speak.
- Greetings should be formal and demonstrate respect and deference.
- It is important to introduce the most important person on your team first.
- Handshakes tend to be light. Bruneian men often raise their hands to the heart after shaking hands. o o Most Bruneians do not shake hands with members of the opposite sex.
- Foreign businesswomen should nod their head in greeting.
- Foreign businessmen should wait to see if a Bruneian woman extends her hand first.
- Titles are important and can be confusing. Bruneians can have as many as 20 words in their title. o Titles such as “Pengiran” with several different words following it, “Awangku”” and “Dayangku” indicate the person is related to the royal family.
- It is acceptable to address someone with a title by their title alone.
- Honorific titles are “Awang” for a man and “Dayang” for a woman. The abbreviations for these titles are “Awg” and “Dyg” respectively.
- Business cards are typically exchanged after introductions and handshakes.
- Present the card with both hands or with the right hand and the left hand supporting the right hand.
- Give a business card to each person you meet.
- Examine any business card you receive before putting it in your business card case.
- The respect you show someone’s business card is considered to be indicative of the respect you will show the person in business.
- It is considered a breach of etiquette to write on a person’s business card in their presence.
- The common greeting depends upon the ethnic origin and the age of the person.In general, many men you meet will have adopted the western concept of shaking hands, although this is not always the case with older Bruneians or with women.
- Ethnic Malay men shake hands with one another, but men and women do not traditionally shake hands.
- Younger Bruneians may shake hands with foreign women or they may merely bow their head in greeting.
- It is considered respectful to bow your head when someone who is senior to yourself in age or position.
- It is considered disrespectful and rude to stare into another person’s eyes, particularly those of a person who is senior to you in age or status.