Are you planning to settle down and do business with Pakistani personalities? Then you have landed in the right place. In today’s blog, we will take you through all the essential business etiquette Pakistani people follow. Especially if you belong to a Western country with a completely different religious and cultural background, you will find this blog very helpful. From business etiquette in Pakistan to primary words and phrases in Urdu, the official language, you will find everything you need. So, if you are interested, continue reading below!
Pakistan is a developing land, both socially and economically. Although it has improved quite a lot economically in recent years, it is known for frequent fluctuations. However, apart from the economic matter, one thing very constant and strict in Pakistani culture is the general etiquette and workplace customs followed by locals. It is still a conservative country with strict social conduct, mainly because the majority of the population follows Islamic rules.
Thus, we are here to help you with all the basic norms of Pakistani business culture and business vocabulary that will allow you to blend with the locals easily!
Business In Pakistan
Before we jump into the manners and etiquette of Pakistani business culture, let us have a quick peek at the work culture of Pakistan for your better understanding.
The working hours in Pakistan are 8-9 hours per day, and this should not exceed 48 hours a week. The labor laws of the Pakistani government protect these working hours and mention those hours, including lunch and prayer time, should not exceed 9-10 hours. As usual, work starts at 8 in the morning and goes on till 5 in the evening and occasionally even late, as overtime work is very common in most company business.
Coming to holidays, Pakistani business considers many national holidays, especially during Eid and other religious festivals. When it comes to the weekend, there have been many disputes in the past regarding Friday-Saturday and Saturday-Sunday as weekends. Hence, in most cases, only Sundays are considered rest days, and other days of the week are mandatory for everyone to go to work.
Pakistan’s main source of income lies in agriculture and industry. In recent times, it has come under severe stress concerning low foreign reserves and a depreciating currency. However, it is known to be a market-oriented, fast-growing country. The government has been trying to uplift the country’s national income by using skilled youth and their talents.
Some of the best areas of business in Pakistan lie in Oil and Gas companies, the Cotton textile industry, cement, steel, and tobacco. It is also growing fast in areas like food processing, machinery, and chemicals.
Talking about the work environment, Pakistani people are very welcoming and warm. However, if you want to blend in well, there are some customs that the locals respect, which you might want to keep in mind while interacting with them. So, read the sections below and become one amongst the Pakistani locals.
Business Etiquette In Pakistan
Here is a list of what you should and should not do while doing business in Pakistan.
Do’s In Pakistani Business Culture
1. Dress Appropriately
The first and foremost thing that you should keep in mind when it comes to Pakistani business culture is your dress code. Men who work at top-level government posts, multinational companies, and banks wear clothes seen in Western cultures, like pants, suits, and shirts. Especially when it comes to “business formal” dresses, you must wear Western outfits like a coat, tie, and formal pants. If you are going for a regular meeting, the “business casual” outfits range between regular trousers and shirts.
If you are a woman, apply your common sense and dress soberly. Stay far away from revealing clothes and dress-hugging outfits. Pakistan is a conservative country where religious women wear Burkhas. So, when you go for your business meetings and work, wear pants or skirts that lay below your knees and tops that cover your shoulders and chest completely. If you want to be on the safe side, Salwar Kameez is the best option to opt for.
2. Always Greet People
Pakistani people are welcoming and friendly. So, whenever you enter your workplace, greet people with a smile. Since you are in a business setting, the standard way of greeting someone is by saying “hello, ” and following up with a handshake. One thing to remember is that you should always be shaking hands with your right hand and not left, as the left hand is considered dirty and rude.
If you are a man, always wait for the woman to shake hands first. It is optional for men and women to shake hands. In most cases, you will face third-party introductions where a host will start presenting everyone when it is a new meeting. You are also most likely to be greeted per your age, starting from the most senior person and status.
If you want to sound local, you can also opt for the traditional greeting phrase As-Salamu-Alaykum which says, “Peace be upon you.”
3. Be Punctual And Patient
Concerning meetings and appointments, you must always try to be on time. Although Pakistanis may keep you waiting as they are not always punctual, as a newcomer you must show some sense of sincerity. Meetings usually begin with some refreshments like tea and coffee and people small talk with personal questions to get acquainted. So, if someone is trying to converse with you, always reply and have a nice chat.
Don’t expect to schedule meetings just one day before. Always schedule meetings three or two weeks in advance and describe the agendas beforehand to your colleagues. Pakistanis also prefer offline, face-to-face meeting more than online modes of conduct. So, schedule your meetings on days when everyone is free.
4. Follow Gift-Giving Rules
Another essential etiquette that you must be aware of is the gift-giving culture. When it comes to negotiations and long-standing personal relationship building, Pakistanis tend to give gifts, offer invitations, and share food as a friendly gesture. However, don’t always fall for sweet traps and negotiate on their terms. It is on you how you want to build relations and how you want to keep things away from your professional life.
Nevertheless, general gift-giving is also very common. In such cases, always choose appropriate gifts and avoid gifts like alcohol, pork products, and nation-related books. If you are a man, don’t offer gifts to women. Even if you do, it must come from a female family member.
If you know Islamic traditions, Muslim people observe the month of Ramadan. It is a religious and very important month for them where they fast throughout the day once every year. On those days, expect the office hours to be shortened or the boss’s early afternoon leaves.
Since locals fast these days, it is very difficult for them to casually maintain everything. So make sure you are polite, calm, and understanding of them. You must also avoid making outside plans or scheduling a business trip during this time.
Don’ts In Pakistani Culture
1. Don’t Burst Out
As mentioned earlier, Pakistanis are not always on time for business meetings and decisions are never made on the exact day. In such situations, do not get mad because Pakistanis don’t like to rush into anything. There will be times when your colleagues may point out things to get the discussion heated or emotional during meetings. In such cases, never lose calm and wait for your turn to speak out.
Moreover, it is most likely that you will get results with calmer tactics than with high-pressure ones. Also always wait for the senior person to speak and take silence as a matter of understanding rather than impassiveness.
2. Don’t Disrespect Religious Beliefs
Pakistanis have a strong respect for their country and religion. So, in no case would you be joking or laughing about it. Even when you are casually talking to your colleagues, be aware of what you say about their country and religion. Especially regarding their religious customs and traditions like fasting during Ramadan and the dress code, never make fun of them.
It will not only affect your relationship but also bring down your business. Pakistan has no space for people who do not respect their nation and culture. So, when interacting with someone, keep Pakistan’s culture in mind.
3. Don’t Disrespect Your Business Card
Always make sure that you handle your business card with care. The way you treat your business card shows how you will treat the person who hands you the card. So, you must always keep it with care and show respect to gain more attention and warm response. Also, always remember to accept cards with your right hand or both hands. Even when it comes to receiving gifts and cash, avoid using your left hand and accept it with respect and care.
4. Don’t Expect As Much Personal Space
As mentioned earlier, Pakistanis prefer engaging in small talk before their work hours or business meetings when they are getting to know you. Expect them to ask personal questions and stand at an intimate distance from you. Do not take it in a wrong and reply comfortably.
You will also notice that Pakistanis speak in a roundabout or circuitous fashion. They will only use direct statements once you are close to them. So, remain calm and try to maintain indirect eye contact to become good friends in the future. In case they cross the limit and you feel uncomfortable, you can politely ask them to maintain their distance.
However, one important thing to remember is that you should not make eye contact with women or senior people. It might imply disrespect and seem as if you are threatening them.
5. Don’t Engage In Controversial Topics
Pakistan is full of news every other day. No matter how political you are, always try to stay away from controversial topics and avoid questioning them. Especially if something is related to the person in your office, do not address it directly. Since relations matter a lot in Pakistani business, losing the relation can cause loss to your work. So, always be careful before speaking or addressing anything risky.
Business Phrases In Urdu
Lastly, knowing some Urdu phrases is essential. Although Pakistanis speak English to a great extent, Urdu will help you make good relations.
|Hello sir/ ma’am||ہیلو سر/میڈم||Hello sir / maidam|
|It is my pleasure to be your partner||آپ کا ساتھی ہونا میری خوشی ہے۔||Aap ka saathi hona meri khushi hai|
|I would like to speak||میں بولنا چاہوں گا۔||Mein bolna chahoon ga|
|I am sorry for the inconvinience||میں زحمت کے لیے معذرت خواہ ہوں۔||Mein zahmat ke liye moazrat khuwa hon|
|May I present now?||کیا میں ابھی پیش کر سکتا ہوں؟||Kya mein abhi paish kar sakta hon?|
|Correct me if I am wrong||اگر میں غلط ہوں تو مجھے درست کریں۔||Agar mein ghalat hon to mujhe durust karen|
|Thank you sir/ ma’am||شکریہ جناب/میڈم||Shukriya janab / maidam|
|Let’s call it a day||چلو آج اسے ختم کرتے ہیں۔||Chalo aaj usay khatam karte hain|
Learn Urdu With Ling App
I hope these etiquettes will help you build a strong business relationship in Pakistan and offer great success to you in the future. However, if you truly want to blend in with the locals, I suggest you learn more of the Urdu language.
Ling app is one of the best apps I would recommend for language learning. It covers more than 60+ foreign languages and provides content on different topics like food, emergencies, clothes, and many more. It also has an AI Chatbot that proffers interactive lessons, which will make your Urdu communication skills smoother even before you land in the country. It has various mini-games, quizzes, and puzzles that make retention easy and improves your vocabulary to a strategic level.