Culture Insights


“It’s Not Part of My Job Description” – Working with Malaysians   Recently updated !

Brian, a British expat living in Malaysia, receives an early morning email and walks over to one of his subordinates. Brian:        Zul, Nadia is on leave but one of her clients has just called up and requested for some information about their account. Can you help to […]


Differing Concepts of How to Show Respect When Working in Malaysia

Martha:         “Everyone, I’m throwing a birthday party for my daughter this Saturday at my house. Would you be able to come and join the celebration?” Wai Ling:      “I might have something to do on that day. If I can, I’ll try to make it.” Martha:  […]


Want to Get the Best Out of Your Malaysian Team? Try This!

“Thanks for the wonderfully written report, Mark! Your summary of the project gave us a really good insight about its progress and what we can expect in the coming months.” “Lina, great job with your presentation this morning! You got all your facts right and you delivered with such poise […]


Four Ways Malaysians Can Project Confidence as They Work Globally

We once organized white water rafting as part of our company’s teambuilding exercise. I was grouped with three other young ladies, all of whom were my direct reports and we were assigned one experienced guide to help us navigate through the challenging rapids. As all of us were inexperienced paddlers, […]


From Colleague to Team Lead – Navigating the Challenges of Promotion in a Relationship Culture

For the past two years, Amanda had enjoyed working in an administrative personnel role alongside five other colleagues. Recently, her supervisor resigned and after a few days of deliberation, Amanda was appointed as the successor. A few weeks into her new role, Amanda’s manager noted a drop in her performance […]


Power Distance – How Does It Affect You at Work?

Recently, a multinational organization had an opportunity to close a huge deal with a chip manufacturing company from China. The negotiations were led by Fabian, a German national, who arranged a site visit for the management team from China with the hopes of acquainting them with the local processes. Due […]


5 Key Points to Consider When Making Conference Calls across Cultures

In the past, an international corporation’s Customer Inventory Planning was done separately by teams located in its respective regions. Recently, the company decided to merge its Asia Pacific and Japanese planning operations together. Senior advisers from both teams (a Malaysian named May and a Japanese named Kaori) arranged a conference call […]


Why Don’t Malaysians Like Asking for Help?

Katrina*, a Danish national, is here in Malaysia for a 2-year expat assignment to assist in standardizing the company’s policies and procedures on a global scale. After understanding how a particular process is done in Malaysia, Katrina explained how it is done on a Group level and provided suggestions on […]


3 Reasons Why Expats Need to Learn Some Malay

Sarah, an expat from Canada, was expecting a visit from her family during the upcoming week. She went to her usual supermarket located near her home to stock up on groceries and was in the midst of loading them all into a taxi when the driver unexpectedly drove off before […]


Ways Malaysians Say No

Wai Keat is busy at his desk when he hears a knock on his door. His American boss, Frederik, extends an invitation to his house for a barbeque this weekend. Wai Keat has made plans for the weekend, so he begins to say, “Ohh…err…I got something to do…” Frederik jumps […]