Cultural understanding


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 […]


Implicit Leadership Theory – What Makes a Good Leader, to You?

Have you ever briefly interacted with someone new and deduced that the individual must be in some form of a leadership role? Even though you hardly know that person, you connect some of the attributes displayed by that individual to what you view as good leadership qualities. Such a phenomenon […]


What is Double-Voiced Discourse and How Does it Affect Us at the Workplace?

Double-voiced discourse is a phrase coined by the Russian philosopher and linguistic theorist named Mikhail Bakhtin. While we may not often speak of this term, some of our everyday actions would fall under its very definition. As opposed to single-voiced discourse (where a topic is expressed in a straightforward way), […]


CQ Self-Assessment Pro – Part 3 Benefits of the Assessment

In this final part of our CQ Self-Assessment Pro series, we will consider the benefits that result from participating in this cultural intelligence assessment. Designed to measure an individual’s capability for working and relating across cultures, the outcome will certainly prove to be useful insight for individuals and corporations looking […]


The Concept of Saving Face in a Malaysian Cultural Context

As with many Asian countries, Malaysia is known to be a face saving culture. Although the term is not commonly used in everyday conversations among Malaysians, the concept is deeply ingrained in our cultural makeup and affects everything that we do. To save face means to preserve one’s reputation, credibility […]


Small Talk in Malaysia

Ever been stuck in an elevator ride alone with the big boss, nervously wondering if you should engage in small talk or give in to your instinctive desire to whip out your phone and pretend to be busy? Or seated at a friend’s wedding dinner amongst strangers who were as […]


Do Malaysians Like To Be Micromanaged?

Your boss has given you an important project with a set deadline. In the days that follow, would you prefer if your boss touch base with you periodically or would you rather your boss frequently drop by your desk to check on your progress and direct your every move? No […]


The Art of Giving Feedback to Malaysians

The delicate art of giving feedback to Malaysians is one that many expat managers might regularly struggle with. “Should I praise/shame him in public? Do I wait until the annual performance review to give feedback? How do I motivate her to improve in a particular area? Maybe if I just […]


Work-Life Balance: How Late Is a Malaysian Expected to Work?

As a foreigner working in Malaysia, have you found yourself in the situation below? It’s 6pm and you see your colleague get up from his seat. Instead of leaving the office though, he heads toward the pantry to pour himself another cup of coffee and stays on for another hour […]