Business Etiquette in the Philippines

Business Cultural Notes

Business Etiquette

Business Etiquette: Start out by addressing a new business acquaintance by his or her family name. “Mister” is obviously proper for men, while many married Filipinas prefer “Mrs.”; use “Ms.” sparingly, or at least until her preference is clear. Filipinos are status conscious, so be quick to use formal titles: Doctor Aquino, Attorney Rodriguez, Secretary de Ocampo. Avoid using someone’s first name until they’ve known you for a while, or until they ask you to be more informal.

Many Filipinos have multiple names: Enrique Ramon, Juan Jesus, Maria Teresita. Always ask what they prefer to be called, then make a note regarding both formal names and nicknames (with proper spelling). Nicknames, some of them seemingly flippant, are common: Johnnyboy, Peachy, Babes, Junior, Booboy. In written form, the nickname is often enclosed in quotations as a middle name: Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco, Ferdinand “Bong Bong” Marcos.

The rules on handshakes are about the same as in the West, although Filipinos may use a little more contact (a pat on the side of the arm as gesture of hospitality or friendship). If there is a clear status differential, or you are meeting a senior executive, it may be best to let him/her offer the handshake first.

Filipinos have fascinating nonverbal language, much of it involving facial expressions. Lifting the eyebrows without smiling means no — but lifting the eyebrows while smiling is used to greet a friend. Filipinos often point by pursing their lips. Pointing your finger is a definite no-no, and you should avoid too-direct eye contact.

Source:  Filipino Business Norms, Etiquette and Style
From Pearl of the Orient Seas, 1999, Clarence Henderson
Henderson Consulting International, Manila, Philippines

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