The Latest! Cultural Clues, Do’s and Taboos for Iran
A Series of Cultural Tips for Countries from A to Z
Cultural Clues & Communication Guidelines for Iran
It’s easy for business travelers to think that even when they travel, business is going to be done pretty much the same way it is at home. But that’s not always the case. Cultural differences can have a big impact on global business etiquette. That’s why it’s important for business travelers to make sure that they understand the culture of the country that they’re doing business in.
This article on cultural differences in Iran and cultural travel tips for Iran is a brief snapshot of conversation guidelines for Iran tips for communicating in Iran, and business strategies for Iran to help with understanding the culture in Iran. It’s important to keep in mind that as we homogenize as a ‘global culture’, cultural tendencies change and evolve as well. Awareness is the first step when it comes to cultural do’s and taboos for Iran and tips for intercultural communication!
Cultural Tips for Iran – including some valuable business travel tips for Iran
Although Iran is considered a part of the Middle East, it is important that you do not confuse Iranians with Arabs. Both have different languages, cultures, and histories.
The official language of Iran is Persian – known as ‘Farsi’ to Iranians. Although it borrows many words from Arabic, it is a unique language.
Iranians are predominantly Shia Muslims. However, some Azeris, Kurds, Afghans, Beluchis and other ethnic minorities in Iran are Sunni.
Shia Islam’s differences with the Sunni variety are limited and sometimes over emphasized.
People should always be mindful of their behavior in public. Clothes should be conservative and non-revealing.
Avoid talking loudly. Do not hold hands with the opposite sex in public, unless these are children or older members of the family.
When meeting someone, always shake hands. As a male, you should wait to see if a woman extends her hand. If she doesn’t then simply nod your head and smile.
When meeting someone for the first time, stick to formalities. Once a relationship has been established, your Iranian counterpart will quickly start to address you with your first name.
As a male in business, you will be expected to dress smartly and conservatively. A suit is standard, although wearing a tie is not necessary.
Women should wear conservative clothing that covers arms, legs, and hair.
When in public, women must cover their hair with a scarf. However, the last few years has seen incredible changes in what the authorities are willing to tolerate.
Women can now be seen wearing make-up, jeans, and scarves that barely cover the hair. Nonetheless, as a foreigner it is best to err on the side of caution.
Business hours are Saturday to Thursday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lunch is usually an hour at around 1 p.m. No business is done on Fridays.
Although many Iranians in business will have a good understanding of English, it is best to arrange for your own interpreter to accompany you.
At the beginning of any meeting, engage in small talk and ask about people’s health, family and work. Wait for your counterpart to initiate the transition in conversation to business matters.
Your success is defined by your ability to build effective personal relationships, combined with a clearly outlined and well-presented proposal.
Building a relationship with your Iranian counterparts is crucial. The first meeting should be focused solely on getting to know each other. Once a relationship has been established, you can move on to business matters.
Iranians are astute businesspeople. They enjoy haggling and getting concessions, so prepare for longer negotiations.
Decision making can be slow. It is most likely that you will meet and negotiate with less senior people first.
Once you are seen as trustworthy and your proposal financially viable, you will move on to meet more senior members.
When negotiating, Iranians will start at extremes in order to gage your response. Prior to negotiations, know your target figure and work slowly towards it through meaningful concessions.
5 Key Conversation or Cultural Gesture Tips
Iran, it’s language, culture and history
Discussing family in a general, non-intrusive way
Food, especially the variety of local cuisine
Sports, especially Football (Soccer) is always a good topic
Professionals will enjoy talking about their education and employment
5 Key Conversation or Cultural Gesture Taboos
Questions about Islam, unless they are very simple, inquisitive questions
Contentious issues that may lead to heated discussion like the Revolution of 1979, Iranian-US relations, and Israeli foreign and domestic policy
Sex and roles of the sexes
Personal questions, unless a very close relationship has been established. Also don’t divulge too much personal information about yourself
Any negative comments about Iran regarding the leadership, infrastructure or people
Join us in the future for Do’s and Taboos for IRELAND!
To learn more about the Dos and Taboos for different cultures, and the cultural communication styles for Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East – order Gayle Cotton’s bestselling book ‘SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication’ available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book
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Emmy Award Winner, Gayle Cotton, is the author of this blog and of the bestselling cross-cultural communication book ‘SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication’, which is available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book. She is President of Circles Of Excellence Inc. and a Professional Keynote Speaker. Contact Gayle if you need professional speakers for events, speakers on cultural diversity, conference speakers for events, or keynote speakers that specialize in cross-cultural training. She is a leader in the field of public speakers, motivational speakers, and international keynote speakers. She is among the best of female keynote speakers and women motivational speakers and is a ‘first choice’ request for international audiences!
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