With a population of almost 200 million people on 13,667 islands, Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago located between the continents of Asia and Australia, and between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. Only 35% of the population live in urban areas, but there are more than 30 cities with a population of more than 100,000. In addition, five cities have a population of over one million, all located in Java. To truly understand the socio-political culture in Indonesia, one needs to understand Java. Although the population has a significant Malay heritage, it has one of the most diverse populations in the world. The Sudanese in western Java make up 16% of its population. Javanese make up 40% of its population. The Madurese make up 4% of Indonesia. The Chinese represent 3%. Indonesia is also diverse with over 300 distinct cultures residing within its borders. With each culture comes a unique language or dialect.
[...] From Face to Shame Perhaps one of the most talked about, but least understood, aspects of doing business and of every day life in Indonesia is the cultural concept of "Loss of Face" and the effect that it has in office, in business and also in every day life relationships. Loss of face is more than simple embarrassment. The concept in Indonesian culture is called "malu". While malu is literally translated as embarrassment or shyness, in the business context it also means loss of face or social shame. [...]
[...] Being placed in uncomfortable situations often results in a laugh or smile with Indonesians at all levels of society, and when not used to it, it can be quite confusing as it may be perceived as laughing at you with indifference. Business etiquette In Indonesian business, there are a few specific rules that foreign professionals should be sure to know about and follow. Perhaps the most important of these is the giving of refreshments in meetings. Traditional Indonesian society considers the giving of refreshments to guests a very important display of respect and politeness. [...]
[...] Expressing anger in public through tone of voice, loudness, or body language is always inappropriate General information If you want a straight answer, don't ask an Indonesian. Indonesia is a gracious culture that is polite. Wanting to be agreeable and never wanting to be embarrassing, Bahasa Indonesia has 12 words that say "yes" but really mean "no". Even with a correct translation, the literal translation for these 12 words would be yes. Thus since saying to someone is impolite, a positive response doesn't mean you have an agreement. Indonesians smoke a lot. If allergic to cigarettes that is not the place. [...]
[...] You know you've been in Indonesia too long if: You can kill cockroaches with your bare feet The footprints on the toilet seat are your own. You no longer wait in line, but immediately go to the head of the queue. It is no longer surprising that the only decision made at a meeting is the time and venue for the next meeting. You accept the fact that you have to queue to get your number for the next queue You regard traffic signals and stop signs with indifference You own a rice cooker, and you eat chilli with everything. [...]
[...] However, we find another application of this concept in Indonesian business. Situations arise where, maintaining the appearance that all is well in a business setting, takes precedence over solving a problem. Javanese culture separates the inner and outer beings of a person. While the inner, private self may hold a certain opinion or emotion, the outer self is expected to conform to the customs and norms of the group. This often leads to situations where you do not know what a person is really thinking. [...]
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