Respect the Hierarchy of Power
Indonesians has a very strong uphold when it comes to hierarchy, power and status. A failure to show the expected level of respect can be off putting. Bahasa Indonesia or the Indonesian language uses a myriad of personal demonstrative to establish the power dynamic between two people. Indonesians also make small talk to establish where they sit on the hierarchical scale.
Foreigners with foreign investment in Indonesia will not be expected to understand the intricacies of Indonesian power dynamics, but will be required to demonstrate respect to seniors. This will bring the closeness of the employer and employee to a different height.
Have Patience and don’t Show Anger
In Indonesia, even a simple task can take longer than expected to complete. How well you deal with this will influence the outcome of your relationships with the individual or organisation you are dealing with. In any situation, you must remember to not show any outburst, given the power dynamics that exist in Indonesia.
Emotional outbursts can only be interpreted one way in Indonesia, negatively. Showing strong emotion in public is considered embarrassing and uncalled for, and action that makes everyone around uncomfortable. Also, by demonstrating that something did not work in Indonesia, you are inadvertently pointing the finger at a local’s failure and making them embarrassed.
The idea here is to be patient, and it will all fall into its rightful place.
Don’t Expect Sudden Concrete Outcomes
Many nationalities, generally expect certainty and an outcome going into a meeting and finishing it, or when entering into a contract. In contrast, there is higher level of ambiguity when that scenario is taking place in Indonesia.
While you many often attend a meeting with a concrete objective on your mind, the primary purpose of an Indonesian counterpart at the same meeting may be to get to know you better. Pushing and pestering for a decision may negatively impact on your relationship with them, and might also jeopardise any future business venture that you might be able to conduct with them.
Maintaining a personal relationship is the vital key to a successful business in Indonesia.
Value Relationships with People
The one certainty of doing business in Indonesia is that you will need friends to help you at some stage. As you might already know, opening and incorporating a fully owned foreign business in Indonesia is costly, and therefore some investors opt for local business incorporation. This requires a trust, and more than that relationship with the one you are trusting.
The value Indonesians place on relationships cannot be overstated. Thus having wide business networks can make all the difference. Most often, the success of a business is related to the strength of the relationships you have with your local partners, or even your suppliers.
Avoid Issues that Will Result in Conflict
Having conflict with anyone is the last thing on any Indonesians’ mind, therefore, they will go to great lengths to avoid conflict and maintain harmony in their lives. In business, the balance between preserving harmony and getting things done can be tricky, even for Indonesians.
Being direct and calling things as they are may be interpreted as a method of confrontational in Indonesia.
Always keep in mind that Indonesians do not take it entirely well when there is any conflict arises, as that will be seen as challenging their pride. When potential conflicts arise, they look for ways to leave both parties’ dignity intact. An embarrassed smile is usually a signal that you have overstepped the mark. Therefore, it is always important to remember this and act accordingly.