Since its joining the WTO in 2007, Vietnam now offers various opportunities for international companies who want to set foot in Vietnamese business environment. Well-known for its competitive advantages, Vietnam is a friendly and budding investment climate to foreign investors. As an intern, you are going to work with Vietnamese people with different mindsets, business practices and work culture. To avoid culture shock and communication confusion, here are some recommendations to work effectively in Vietnamese work settings.
Understanding work practices during your internship in Vietnam
Vietnamese business contacts are mostly referrals. Sometimes, a business relationship is built thanks to another business associate recommendation.
Work relationship can become a social relationship after a while. When you share more aspects of personal life such as your family, hobbies, aspirations, you'll get to be closer in a business relationship.
Companies in Vietnam usually allocate part of their budget for team members to have dinner or play sport activities together. This is because Vietnamese employees often need to build personal trust with work partners.
Giving face is also an important concept to bear in mind if you are learning to work effectively with Vietnamese people. It is advisable that you give appropriate respect based on rank and seniority. You should also ask for advice from your supervisors if you are not clear about the tasks. Generally, Vietnamese people value communication at workplace.
When it comes to work entertainment, most dinners and parties are held in hotels and restaurants and served with Vietnamese beer and imported wines. You can exchange toasts with the host. Usually, after the dinner, the team might go to a karaoke together.
Vietnamese people also love taking naps after lunch to have enough energy to work in the afternoon.
Understanding communication in Vietnam
- In Vietnam, people can comment directly on other people’s weights, for example: “You are gaining weight” or “You should lose weight”. This is because people tend to adore certain beauty standard in terms of weight. You should not feel sad if this happens to you. Instead, try to understand the cultural differences. For them, it might just be a way of showing consideration and for small talk.
- Talk to your colleagues in a humorous and positive way could help. Don’t underestimate the power of a pep talk.
- Common topics for conversation are soccer, travel and food. Soccer is the most popular sport in Vietnam.
- Avoid taboos such as asking about salary and Vietnamese politics.
- Vietnamese names have specific orders: surname followed by middle name and then given name. Call others by their given names instead of their surnames.
- Fun fact: Common surnames in Vietnam
- Nguyen: 40% of the Vietnamese population
- Tran: 10% of the Vietnamese population
- Le: 10% of the Vietnamese population
Try to understand complex implications
To avoid confusion, notice that sometimes, Vietnamese start their answer with Yes and Ok, but the actual answer is after the Yes and Ok. Sometimes, Yes and Ok just implies that they understand what you say or what you ask.
– “What do you think about this solution?”
– “Yes. I think that solution A is good but solution B is better.”
- If you are an English speakers, you should avoid tag questions. Vietnamese people’s answer may be confusing as a result of different language structure.
– “Solution A isn’t good enough, is it?”
The answer “Yes” here means “I agree with you that solution A isn’t good enough”.
Therefore, you should ask this question instead
“Do you agree that solution A isn’t good enough?”
- When you present something to your colleagues, if they are silent, it can be interpreted that the group agrees/ has no objection to what you’re saying.
To work effectively with Vietnamese people, cultural literacy is part of what you should be mindful of. Hope these tips help you to be more confident working in a whole new context.
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About Internship in Vietnam
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