New Article! Cultural Clues & Communication Guidelines for THE PHILIPPINES

The Latest! Cultural Clues, Do’s and Taboos for The Philippines

A Series of Cultural Tips for Countries from A to Z  

Cultural Clues & Communication Guidelines for The Philippines

It’s easy for business travelers to think that even when they travel, business is going to be done pretty much the same way it is at home. But that’s not always the case. Cultural differences can have a big impact on global business etiquette. That’s why it’s important for business travelers to make sure that they understand the culture of the country that they’re doing business in.

This article on cultural differences in The Philippines and cultural travel tips for The Philippines is a brief snapshot of conversation guidelines for The Philippines, tips for communicating in The Philippines, and business strategies for The Philippines to help with understanding the culture in The Philippines. It’s important to keep in mind that as we homogenize as a ‘global culture’, cultural tendencies change and evolve as well. Awareness is the first step when it comes to cultural do’s and taboos for The Philippines and tips for intercultural communication!

Cultural Tips for The Philippines – including some valuable business travel tips for The Philippines

When doing business in The Philippines, understand that it represents a variety of cultures. It’s in the heart of Southeast Asia, however is heavily influenced by non-Asians from Spain, Mexico, and the United States. As a result, the Catholic Church is more influential than in other Asian cultures, making the Philippines a truly unique and diverse country.

The majority of inhabitants are of ethnic Malay stock, although unlike neighboring countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, the influence of Islam is more limited.

‘Small talk’ is an important part of establishing business relationships with Filipinos. You’ll find that they can be quite enthusiastic conversationalists.

Expect to be asked personal questions regarding your marital status, income, religion, and other sensitive subjects. If you don’t wish to answer, side-step these questions as graciously as possible.

Embarrassing someone, or reprimanding them in front of others, can cause them to “lose face” or loss of reputation and this has very negative consequences in this culture. Maintaining cordial relationships is essential in the Philippines. Keep your comments as positive as possible, because negativity can inadvertently cause “loss of face”,

It’s best not to be too direct when communicating with Filipinos. They will usually be more receptive to a rather indirect approach.

Because of the years of U.S. military presence in the Philippines, most westernized gestures and communication styles are recognized and understood. English is the language of most business transactions and nearly all government bodies in the Philippines.

Women are accepted in business circles, however should avoid acting in a domineering way with male colleagues. Women managers are expected to be highly competent and assert their authority in a professional, restrained manner.

Business travelers are expected to be on time for all appointments, and although the Filipinos may not always arrive exactly on time, you probably won’t be subjected to an overly long wait.

Producing “instant results” is not a strong part of Filipino business culture. Consequently, you will have to adjust your expectations regarding deadlines and decision making when working with them.

In order to reach the decision-maker, you will likely have to meet with subordinates first and also adapt to the business protocol at the different levels of the organization.When meeting a new customer, letters of introduction from friends and business associates can often be helpful in opening doors.

Although there are many social inequalities in the Philippines, Filipinos believe that everyone must be treated with respect. They are expected to behave with modesty and graciousness, especially in their dealings with the poor or less fortunate.

Businessmen should expect to shake hands firmly with other Filipino men both upon introduction and subsequent meetings however, it’s best to wait for a Filipino woman to offer her hand first.

Close female friends may greet each other with a hug and kiss. Similarly, close male friends may have close physical contact, such as holding hands or walking arm in arm around a friend’s shoulder.

Some Filipinos may greet each other by making eye contact, then raising and lowering their eyebrows. When someone raises their eyebrows at you, it is often a way of indicating that you have been understood.

Raising one’s voice is unacceptable in the Filipino business culture. It’s important to maintain a low, controlled tone of voice at all times.

Don’t assume that a smile is an indication of amusement or approval. At times, smiling is used to mask embarrassment, nervousness, and other feelings of discomfort.

Pointing at someone or something can be perceived as an insulting gesture. Filipinos typically point at objects using an open hand. For giving directions, they may use a glance with a slight nod, or purse their lips to signify which way.

To beckon someone, hold your hand out, palm downward, and make a scratching motion with the fingers. Beckoning someone with the palm up and wagging one finger can be interpreted as an insult.

Indicating ‘two’ with the fingers is done by holding up the ring and little finger, not the forefinger and middle finger. The thumb is not used to count numbers in the Philippines.

Don’t put your hands on your hips when conversing. This gesture can be misinterpreted as challenge to another person.

5 Key Conversation or Cultural Gesture Tips

Discussing the Filipino culture and customs is always appreciated

Family is also a good topic in the Philippines

Filipinos love fiestas, so asking about these occasions will create a lively conversation

All types of sports, especially basketball

Food and the local specialties is a great topic

5 Key Conversation or Cultural Gesture Taboos

Politics in general, unless they bring it up first

Corruption, terrorism, or drug trafficking — even though it may be in the news

Foreign aid and related policies

Religion in general, unless they bring it up first

Topics that could potentially cause embarrassment or “loss of face”

Bon Voyage!

Join us in the future for Do’s and Taboos for POLAND!

To learn more about the Dos and Taboos for different cultures, and the cultural communication styles for Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East – order Gayle Cotton’s bestselling book available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book

Watch the ‘Say Anything-5 Keys’ Video

Create Rapport and Organize Strategies for Success

The CROSS of Cross-Cultural

Emmy Award Winner, Gayle Cotton, is the author of this blog and of the bestselling cross-cultural communication book SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication’, which is available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book. She is President of Circles Of Excellence Inc. and a Professional Keynote Speaker. Contact Gayle if you need professional speakers for events, speakers on cultural diversity, conference speakers for events, or keynote speakers that specialize in cross-cultural training. She is a leader in the field of public speakers, motivational speakers, and international keynote speakers. She is among the best of female keynote speakers and women motivational speakers and is a ‘first choice’ request for international audiences!

Circles Of Excellence provides Corporate Training, Leadership Coaching, and Professional Keynote Speakers for companies of all sizes and in all industries, including over 50 Fortune 500 companies. Contact us about our customizedtraining programs for Communication Skills, Cross-Cultural Communication, Cultural Diversity, Customer Service, Leadership Coaching, Presentation Skills, Sales Negotiations, Stress Management, Team building, and Time Management Training.

Gayle Cotton’s Website:

Gayle Cotton’s Blog:

Circles Of Excellence Website:

Circles Of Excellence Blog:

Gayle Cotton’s Video: Speaker Preview for Gayle Cotton

Gayle Cotton’s Newsroom: Media Interviews

Gayle’s Bestselling Book: SAY Anything to Anyone Anywhere!

Subscribe to Gayle Cotton's Blog!


Recent Posts

Cultural Clues, Communication Guidelines for SCOTLAND

Cultural Tips for SCOTLAND – including some valuable business travel tips! When doing business in Scotland, keep in mind that addresses in Scotland are written in the following order: (1) country (2) city (3) street address and (4) the last name of the individual. The...

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day Phrases in Gaelic!

Happy Saint Paddy’s Day! Happy St. Patrick’s Day! (singular) - Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit! La ale-lah pwad-rig son-ah ditchTo your health! - Sláinte or slàinte! Slanh-chə Saint Patrick’s Day Blessings! -  Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig! Ban-ick-tee na fay-lah...

It’s Chinese New Year and 2022 is the Year of the TIGER!

Happy Chinese New Year! The Chinese New Year of the Tiger will coincide with the 2022 Olympics!  It starts February 1st, 2022, and the celebration will go on for about 14 days. People born in a year of the Tiger are predicted to be brave, competitive,...

Cultural Clues, Communication Guidelines SAUDI ARABIA

Do’s and Taboos for Saudi Arabia Cultural Tips for Saudi Arabia - including some valuable business travel tips for Saudi Arabia When doing business in Saudi Arabia, keep in mind that addresses in Saudi Arabia are written in the following order: (1) country (2) city...

Say Happy Holidays in Languages from Around the World!

Happy Holidays in Argentine - Felices Pasquas Y felices ano Nuevo Happy Holidays in Brazilian - Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo Happy Holidays in French: Joyeuses Fêtes!Happy Holidays in Spanish: Felices Fiestas!Happy Holidays in Swedish: Trevlig Helg!Happy Holidays in...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This