A week ago, on Sunday 2nd October, the Australian Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo won the Grand Prix in Malaysia. One week, four nights in prison, a court hearing and a job resignation later, nine Australian men are back in their home country, doubtlessly wishing they had done their research and celebrated more in line with their host country’s cultural values.
Apparently they stood handcuffed in front of a judge, apologising for their foolish behaviour (of publicly wearing swimmers emblazoned with the Malaysian flag) that could have resulted in a two year prison sentence.
Why am I mentioning this? Because all this happened, while we were holding a “Business Etiquette & Culture in Malaysia” workshop here at Farnham Castle. The ten people attending it will certainly not make this, or any of the many other, less obvious mistakes, while working with their Malaysian clients and business partners.
Lack of cultural awareness doesn’t seem to be a big thing – until it is. Not often are the consequences arrest and detention but, as one Malaysian national commented, it can often result in humiliation and a negative impression, not only of that particular group of people, but a whole country or a company. A high price to pay!