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Cultural Etiquette: Doing Business In Jordan

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Cultural Etiquette: Doing Business in Jordan

Jordan, officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, is a country located in the Middle East. With a rich history and vibrant culture, Jordan offers numerous opportunities for business ventures. However, it is essential to understand and respect the cultural etiquette when doing business in Jordan to ensure successful interactions. This article will provide a comprehensive guide to navigating the cultural nuances of conducting business in Jordan.

Business Culture

Jordanians value personal relationships and trust in business dealings. Building rapport and establishing a connection with your Jordanian counterparts is crucial. It is common for meetings to start with small talk and inquiries about each other’s well-being before diving into business matters. Showing genuine interest in your counterparts’ personal lives can help foster strong relationships.

  • Hospitality: Jordanians are known for their hospitality. Invitations to homes or restaurants are not uncommon, and accepting such invitations is seen as a sign of respect. Be prepared to reciprocate the gesture in the future.
  • Business Attire: Dressing professionally is expected in business settings. Men typically wear suits, while women may opt for conservative attire that covers their shoulders and knees.
  • Punctuality: While punctuality is appreciated, it is not uncommon for meetings to start late. Patience and flexibility are important virtues to display.
  • Business Cards: Exchanging business cards is a common practice in Jordan. Ensure that your business cards are printed in both English and Arabic, with the Arabic side facing up when presenting it to your counterpart.
  • Language: Arabic is the official language of Jordan. Although English is widely spoken in business settings, learning a few basic Arabic greetings and phrases can be seen as a sign of respect.

Communication Style

Jordanians value indirect communication and often rely on non-verbal cues to convey their message. It is essential to pay attention to body language and tone of voice during conversations. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Politeness: Jordanians place great importance on politeness and respect. Using formal titles such as “Mr.” or “Dr.” followed by the person’s last name is customary when addressing individuals.
  • Non-Verbal Communication: Handshakes are the standard form of greeting in business settings. Maintain eye contact while conversing, as it is a sign of attentiveness and respect. Avoid crossing your legs or displaying the soles of your feet, as it is considered disrespectful.
  • Indirect Communication: Jordanians often use indirect language to convey their thoughts or opinions. They may hesitate to say “no” directly to avoid causing offense. Pay attention to subtle cues and read between the lines.
  • Hierarchy: Jordanian society has a hierarchical structure, and respect for authority is deeply ingrained. It is important to show deference to individuals in positions of power or seniority.
  • Conflict Resolution: Jordanians prefer to avoid open conflicts and value harmony. When faced with disagreements, it is advisable to address the issue privately and in a non-confrontational manner.

Negotiation and Decision-Making

Negotiations in Jordan often involve building trust and establishing long-term relationships. Here are some key factors to consider:

  • Patience: Negotiations in Jordan can be lengthy, as decisions are often made collectively and after thorough consideration. Avoid rushing the process and be prepared for multiple rounds of negotiations.
  • Relationship Building: Building a personal connection with your counterparts is crucial for successful negotiations. Take the time to understand their needs and concerns, and emphasize win-win solutions.
  • Consensus: Decisions are typically made collectively in Jordanian business culture. It is important to obtain buy-in from all relevant stakeholders before finalizing any agreements.
  • Respect for Hierarchy: Decision-making authority often rests with senior executives or business owners. Show respect for hierarchical structures and ensure that decisions align with the established power dynamics.
  • Flexibility: Jordanians value flexibility and adaptability in negotiations. Be prepared to make concessions and find creative solutions to overcome obstacles.

Business Meeting Etiquette

When attending business meetings in Jordan, it is essential to be mindful of the following:

  • Greetings: Begin the meeting with a warm greeting and handshake. Address individuals using their formal titles and last names unless instructed otherwise.
  • Seating Arrangement: The host usually determines the seating arrangement. Wait to be directed to your seat, and avoid crossing your legs or pointing your feet towards others.
  • Small Talk: Engage in small talk before diving into business matters. Topics such as family, travel, and culture are suitable conversation starters.
  • Presentations: Prepare well-structured and informative presentations. Visual aids such as charts or graphs can enhance your message. Be prepared for interruptions and questions during your presentation.
  • Gift Giving: While not mandatory, gifts are appreciated in business settings. Choose gifts that reflect your home country or company, and present them at the end of the meeting as a gesture of appreciation.

Business Dining Etiquette

Business meals are an integral part of conducting business in Jordan. Here are some dining etiquettes to observe:

  • Invitations: Accept invitations to meals as they are seen as an opportunity to build relationships. Show appreciation for the host’s generosity.
  • Seating: Wait to be directed to your seat, as the seating arrangement is often predetermined. The host typically sits at the head of the table.
  • Table Manners: Familiarize yourself with basic table manners, such as using utensils appropriately and refraining from starting to eat until the host begins.
  • Sharing Food: Jordanian meals are often served family-style, with dishes placed in the center of the table. Take small portions and wait for the host to start before helping yourself.
  • Alcohol Consumption: While alcohol is available in Jordan, it is not commonly consumed in business settings. Respect your counterparts’ preferences and avoid excessive drinking.

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Business Etiquette

When conducting business in Jordan, it is essential to be aware of the following:

  • Respecting Ramadan: During the holy month of Ramadan, which follows the Islamic lunar calendar, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Show respect by refraining from eating, drinking, or smoking in public during daylight hours.
  • Religious Sensitivity: Jordan is a predominantly Muslim country, and it is important to respect Islamic customs and traditions. Dress modestly and be mindful of prayer times and religious holidays.
  • Gift Giving: When offering gifts, avoid items made of pigskin or containing alcohol, as they are not compatible with Islamic customs.
  • Follow-Up: After meetings or negotiations, it is customary to send a follow-up email or letter expressing gratitude for the opportunity to meet and reaffirming your commitment to the discussed matters.

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Doing business in Jordan requires a deep appreciation for the country’s cultural etiquette. Building strong relationships, displaying respect, and understanding the nuances of communication styles are essential for successful business ventures. By adhering to these guidelines, you can navigate the cultural landscape of Jordan with confidence and establish fruitful partnerships.

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