Vietnam has been joining the WTO since 2007 with many opportunities for foreign companies who want to do business there. According to the World Economic, Vietnam already has many competitive advantages and a strong investment climate appealing to foreign investors. In order to avoid cultural disasters, here are some recommendations on how you can work effectively with Vietnamese colleagues and partners that can help conduct a more successful business in Vietnam.

Sai Gon – the biggest city in Vietnam
Source: Internet

Understanding Vietnamese business culture and etiquette
Despite the legacy of Vietnam War and recent economic upheavals, Vietnam is now rebuilding itself to compete on a global scale. It is essential to penetrate Vietnamese history, cultural values and business practices when collaborating with Vietnamese counterparts.

Vietnamese business contacts are mostly referrals; essentially a business relationship is struck based on another business associate recommendation. However, it is common today to create direct contacts by using the internet and the competitive nature of Vietnamese businesses.

Vietnamese business relationship inevitably becomes a social relationship after a while. The more you share your personal life such as family, hobbies, aspirations, the closer you are in the business relationship.

Besides, seniority is important in Vietnam, especially if you are dealing with a State owned or government body. This is an important thing that challenges the success of your negotiation.
In addition, giving face is a very important concept in Vietnam. You must give the appropriate respect according to rank and seniority. It’s good to seek advices before getting on your first meeting with Vietnamese business contacts to avoid making the wrong move.

Another significant aspect is business entertainment. Most business dinners and parties are held in hotels or restaurants. Vietnamese beer or imported wines and liquor are usually served along the meal. It is befitting for you and your host to exchange toasts. After dinners the team might go to a karaoke together.

It’s hard to sum up the Vietnamese business culture and etiquette in a few words. The previously mentioned aspects are essential as the first steps in increasing your cultural knowledge and skills to enable you to work more effectively with Vietnamese colleagues and partners on virtual team, joint ventures and projects.

Interpreting and adjusting to the Vietnamese mindset

It’s difficult to change one’s mindset because it is something we bias ourselves. However, as a manager who wants to become a source of inspiration for their people, you have to take this into account.
Firstly, you must learn the “voice” mindset of your Vietnamese colleagues. You can do this by observing and analyzing from their words and actions. Understanding their habits, characteristics, mental attitudes and know how they will interpret and respond to situations will help you have a suitable actions to improve their way of thinking.
Secondly, talking with them in a humorous and positive way is a great solution. A great change can come from a pep talk. Talking about their bad side as a joke and put an idea into their head cleverly. But remember that if you want to build his/her own value, you must build your influence first. There is no way except being a role model.

Thirdly, encourage your staffs to take action. Give them compliments when they do the right things. Give them a sense of responsibility and increase the level. In a recent interview on Vietnamnews, some foreign managers mentioned that they found their Vietnamese staffs very hard working, interested in their work and attentive to their duties. If your staffs still do not show you the same, let’s inspire them! You must believe that you are a good manager so that you can create great employees!

Genuinely, Vietnamese are honest and friendly. Once you understand local customs and behaviors of Vietnamese colleagues, you can easily build successful relationships with them. In addition, most managers everywhere would like to establish a fun-loving atmosphere, but the bottom line is that businesses’ main purpose is to make a profit in an effective way. Individuals might get bad results when they force somebody to do something. The greatest way is inspire them. Vietnam is a promising land and you can have more wonderful experiences than you imagine.

All in all, “Life is a journey, not a destination” (Ralph Waldo Emerson). Though you make any decision, it’s your choice. Let’s do it with all your best!

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