Afghanistan - Business CustomsAfghanistan - Business Customs
Business meetings are conducted in Dari, Pashto or English. Green or black tea, nuts and raisins are typically served. The form of greeting is “Asalam Aleikum” (Peace be with you), followed by a firm handshake and then, for courtesy and to pay homage to the host (you don’t necessarily have to), briefly place your right hand over your heart. It is best to take a few minutes to initially engage in pleasantries about each other's country, rather than going straight to business. Afghan interlocutors may appear vague and non-committal during meetings. In order to build trust and "get to yes," be patient, share meals and other social events and discuss matters other than business. Capture the essence of your business meetings and agreements in a follow up letter to your Afghan interlocutor. Be clear about what you have committed yourself or your U.S. firm to do, or in many cases, have not committed to do. A promise to "look into" or "research" an issue, quote, or pricing policy may be interpreted as a firm commitment.
Do not rely heavily on email and the internet when doing business in Afghanistan. Most Afghan businesspeople do not have access to the internet outside of work hours, and many are only able to log on once or twice a week. Afghans prefer to meet in person, or to talk over the phone when a face-to-face meeting is impractical.
DOs and DON’Ts in Afghan Culture
Do greet everyone when entering a room. Shake hands with the men, but not with a woman unless she extends her hand first.
Do eat with your right hand as much as possible.
Do dress modestly. At a minimum, women in Afghanistan typically cover their head with a scarf, wear long sleeves and either slacks and a tunic or a floor-length skirt.
Do accept a chair if someone brings you one to sit on, even if you would rather stand. This is a sign of respect.
Do read about the country's history, culture, and people before you come, as this will be treated as a sign of respect for Afghanistan.
Don't show impatience if your interlocutor isn’t giving you direct answers. Afghans like to elaborate and want to be clear in communicating.
Don't panic. The Afghan Government can be bureaucratic. It may take you several days to get a simple authorization signed. Keep in mind that the Afghan Government is undergoing a reform process.
Don't call an Afghan "Afghani." Afghani is the currency; Afghans are the people of Afghanistan.
Don’t drink alcohol in front of an Afghan as Afghanistan is an Islamic country.
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