Behavior and Etiquette: Official and Business Meetings - Part 1

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When conducting any business or meetings, it is important that you never insult someone or question their intelligence. A person may be illiterate but that does not mean you are more intelligent. Tribal people take great pride in their knowledge about their surroundings and ability to survive in harsh environments.

During the month of Ramadan business should be avoided. Workdays are shortened during this month and some people may not work at all. Normal gestures of hospitality that are crucial to business meetings, such as offering tea and snacks, are not possible during this time as Pakistanis are fasting. Ramadan is also a holy month where the main priority is spiritual cleansing which makes business meetings at this time inappropriate.

During any meeting, official or informal, Pakistanis take their time and do not rush business. You should arrive on time but expect to be kept waiting. A Pakistani's life is structured around prayer and any meeting will be interrupted by prayer time.

Business will most likely not be finished on the same day as a meeting. Pakistanis like to deliberate over ideas and come to a consensus among decision makers and tribal elders. Time is not a consideration and meetings will always begin with small talk and tea. It is common not to discuss any business in the first few meetings in order to build a rapport with one another. Building a relationship first is critical.

A good way to establish a relationship is by offering a business card after the initial introduction. Your card should include your advanced degrees or academic honors, as this denotes status. Business cards should be exchanged only with the right hand or both hands. Before placing their card into your business card holder, put effort into studying it as this will show sincere interest in the person [7]. As the relationship develops, it may be appropriate to give small gifts like pens, Swiss pocket knives, and watches (never give alcohol as a gift unless it is requested). Remember, Pakistanis adhere to the idea of Inshallah, which means "god willing." Do not rush business or force issues, it will happen if and when god wills it.

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