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Cultural Etiquette: Doing Business In Nepal

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Cultural Etiquette: Doing Business in Nepal

Nepal, a country nestled in the Himalayas, is known for its rich culture and traditions. When doing business in Nepal, it is essential to understand and respect the cultural etiquette to establish successful relationships with Nepalese counterparts. This article will provide you with a comprehensive guide on the cultural etiquette to follow while doing business in Nepal.

Introduction to Nepalese Culture

Nepal is a diverse country with multiple ethnic groups, languages, and religions. The majority of the population follows Hinduism, followed by Buddhism and other indigenous religions. Nepalese people are known for their warm hospitality, respect for elders, and strong sense of community. Understanding these cultural aspects will help you navigate the business landscape in Nepal.

  • Respect for Hierarchy: Nepalese society has a hierarchical structure, and it is important to show respect to individuals in positions of authority. Addressing people by their titles, such as “Sir” or “Madam” is customary.
  • Greetings: Greetings are an important part of Nepalese culture. The traditional greeting is “Namaste,” where you join your palms together in front of your chest and bow slightly. It is polite to greet everyone individually, starting with the most senior person present.
  • Business Attire: While doing business in Nepal, it is recommended to dress formally. Men typically wear a suit or a shirt and tie, while women wear conservative business attire.
  • Gift Giving: Gift giving is common in Nepalese culture, especially during festivals or as a token of appreciation. When presenting a gift, it is polite to use both hands. Avoid giving leather items or alcohol, as they may be considered inappropriate by some.
  • Business Cards: Exchanging business cards is a common practice in Nepal. Ensure that your business card is printed in English and includes your title and qualifications.

Building Relationships

Building strong relationships is crucial when doing business in Nepal. Nepalese people value trust and personal connections. Take the time to establish rapport with your Nepalese counterparts before discussing business matters.

  • Small Talk: Engage in casual conversations before diving into business discussions. Topics such as family, culture, and travel are safe to discuss and help build connections.
  • Patience and Respect: Nepalese people appreciate patience and respect. Avoid rushing or pressuring your Nepalese counterparts during negotiations. Decision-making may take time as consensus is often sought.
  • Networking and Referrals: Networking is important in Nepalese business culture. Building a network of contacts and obtaining referrals from trusted individuals can greatly benefit your business endeavors.
  • Invitations and Hospitality: Inviting your Nepalese counterparts for meals or cultural events is a great way to strengthen relationships. It is customary to remove your shoes before entering someone’s home.
  • Business Meetings: Business meetings in Nepal may be more informal compared to Western cultures. It is common to engage in small talk and build rapport before discussing business matters.

Communication and Language

Effective communication is essential in business interactions. While English is widely spoken in Nepal, understanding a few basic Nepali phrases can be beneficial and show your respect for the local culture.

  • Language: Learn a few basic Nepali phrases, such as greetings and simple expressions, to show your interest in the local culture. Most Nepalese people will appreciate your effort.
  • Direct and Indirect Communication: Nepalese people may use indirect communication styles, especially when delivering negative feedback. Pay attention to non-verbal cues and read between the lines.
  • Listening and Non-Verbal Communication: Active listening and observing non-verbal cues are important in Nepalese culture. Maintain eye contact while listening and nod occasionally to show understanding.
  • Respectful Tone: Maintain a respectful and polite tone during business interactions. Avoid confrontational or aggressive communication styles.
  • Written Communication: Written communication should be formal and professional. Ensure that your emails and other written correspondence are clear, concise, and respectful.

Negotiations and Business Practices

Negotiating business deals in Nepal requires patience, respect, and an understanding of local customs. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Building Trust: Building trust is crucial in Nepalese business culture. Invest time in getting to know your counterparts and establishing a strong relationship before engaging in negotiations.
  • Consensus Decision-Making: Nepalese culture emphasizes collective decision-making. Be prepared for negotiations to involve multiple stakeholders, and consensus may take time to reach.
  • Respect for Elders: Nepalese society values respect for elders. If you are negotiating with senior individuals, ensure that you show proper respect and deference.
  • Patience and Flexibility: Negotiations in Nepal may take longer than expected. Be patient and flexible, as the process may involve multiple rounds of discussions and revisions.
  • Written Agreements: Once an agreement is reached, it is essential to document the terms in a written contract. Consult with a local legal expert to ensure compliance with Nepalese laws.


Doing business in Nepal requires a deep understanding of the cultural etiquette and norms. By respecting the local customs, building relationships, and communicating effectively, you can establish successful business partnerships in this beautiful Himalayan country.



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