Malaysian business culture


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 […]


Malaysian Communication-Stating an Opinion Outright vs Implying a Point

An international organization held a conference in Malaysia to standardize its manufacturing line processes across the different regions and participants came from all over the world. The organizers had offered to provide transportation for the delegates from their hotels to the conference site. As the Japanese participants had initially politely […]


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 […]


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 […]


Malaysian Telephone Etiquette

For most of us, an important aspect of our daily lives is the making and answering of telephone calls. We make and receive calls for a variety of reasons – to make appointments, to enquire about something or simply to connect with our friends and loved ones. Telephone calls are […]


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 […]


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 […]