The Vietnamese way of working

Nov 22 2007 by Derek Torres Print This Article

A recent article I came across on a Malaysian web site has provided some great information for any Westerners who may be doing business or travelling in Vietnam. Essentially, be ready for a "touchy-feely" interactive experience!

While I could certainly imagine close physical proximity in certain social situations, I was quite surprised to learn that this also extends to the workplace. For example, hugging and hand-holding during conversations is not uncommon among co-workers (even among two men, which would certainly raise some eyebrows in the West).

Another anecdotal case occurred during a business seminar where a longtime colleague proceeded to massage a colleague's thigh throughout the duration of the presentation.

While thigh massaging may be a bit extreme, perhaps more physical contact helps to break down barriers or awkward situations. But having worked on two continents throughout my career, I couldn't imagine either one of these things taking place in the workplace. In fact, I would think this would be HR's worst nightmare come true!

Nevertheless, finding out this information is exactly the type of information one should research prior to travelling. After all, I might just be you who are perceived as acting strangely.