Although many government officials will speak some English, they may prefer to hold meetings in Bahasa Indonesia.
English-speaking translators are usually easily accessible but may not be trustworthy in their translations.
Indonesians are quite open in expressing their opinions about many controversial topics. You as a guest, should avoid controversial topics or criticisms.
Acceptable topics include : the weather ,family , travel ,sports food.
Avoid talking about: Indonesia’s human rights record , bureaucracy , corruption, criticism of Indonesian ways
Indonesian business characteristics are based firmly on the classic, Asian values of respect for hierarchy and people
Always try to show respect for the hierarchy of the organization
indonesian business culture is extremely hierarchical. If you are part of a negotiating team or other type of delegation, line up so that the most important individuals will be introduced first.
If you are introducing two people, state the name of the most important person first.
When you receive another person’s card, make a show of carefully examining it for a few moments and then remarking upon it before putting it in your card case or on a nearby table.
Be aware that accepting a business card and then immediately stuffing it into your back pocket will be perceived as disrespectful.
Meetings tend to be very formal
Nepotism and cronyism are a fact of business life and it is essential to have the right contacts in the right places.
Subordinates will give loyalty and dependability to those managers who are seen as worthy of respect.
Decision-making is either directional (coming from the boss) or, in peer to peer situations, is arrived at through lengthy consensus seeking discussions.
Gifts are often given and received. To avoid any whiff of corruption, give small, corporate-type gifts.
Many women work in Indonesia, often reaching positions of seniority.
Be aware of the usual Muslim sensitivities towards such issues as alcohol, pork, being touched by the left hand etc.
An Indonesian delegation will often enter the room in hierarchical fashion, the most prominent members entering first.
Initial meetings can often be dominated by seemingly inconsequential, small talk which has little, if anything to do with core business matter.
Time is elastic is Indonesia
Business cards are important and should be given out in a formal manner at the beginning of a meeting.
Cards should contain as much information about you as possible.
Indonesians tend to be very friendly and you should reciprocate this immediate friendliness. They are more likely to buy from people who treat them with deference and seem to genuinely like them.
Your presentation material and company literature should be translated into Bahasa Indonesia, the country’s official language.
make your presentation in a bi-lingual format.
However, all official correspondence with government officials must be in Bahasa Indonesia. Use of the language is also mandated for many advertisements and publications.
Time seems to be less of an issue in Indonesia
Never create a situation where a contact might ‘lose face’.
English language levels are generally lower than in some neighboring countries and translators may, sometimes, be needed.
Remain calm and composed at all times.
Avoid any show of emotion during meetings and speak with a soft voice.
Try not to openly disagree with people as this can be interpreted as a lack of respect and will probably fracture the relationship.
If you do not agree, keep coming back to the subject in a subtle, indirect way.
Do not assume that ‘yes’ means ‘yes’. It could mean one of many things
Expect to encounter more silences during meetings than in many other countries.
physical contact between people of the same sex is perfectly acceptable.
Be aware that many Indonesians believe that the head is the ‘seat of the soul.’
Traditionally, the head should not be held higher than that of a superior or older family member.
During a meeting or presentation, you will have to take the initiative to discern if your audience understands you.
Indonesians may allow a person to proceed incorrectly rather than correct him or her and cause embarrassment for that person.