Business Culture in Iran and Social Etiquette

Understanding Iran’s Social Etiquette to Understand Business Culture in Iran

Iran-business-tipsProject Managers Organization Members understand importance of business culture for doing successful business.   Iran’s newly post-sanction opened market offers a multi-billion dollar opportunity for western companies and many have contacted our members to make the proper connection with new partners.  However, Western companies looking to enter Iran’s markets have to realize Business Culture in Iran is very different from other Middle Eastern countries that they may have worked with, previously.  They will have to accept Iranian’s customs and traditions to achieve success and hire a consultant who understands the difference with Business Culture in Iran and world-class standards.  Businesses that pay attention to the nuanced concerns, beliefs, and values of their counterparts and partners in Iran will be ahead of their competition.

For starters, Westerners hoping to build productive relationships will need to respect and incorporate social and cultural perspective within their business mindset.   Muslims and Iranian in general have no problem with capitalism but they are proud to distinguish themselves from capitalist by combining the same principles with their faith and culture.  Iranians have developed a unique Islamic Business Culture that promotes investment, trading, and generation of capital, however regulate how it is made and where it is spent.  Knowing the customs, traditions, laws and social characteristics of Iran’s different regions, is critical to trust building and partnership longevity.

Business Culture in Iran

Generally, Iranian businessmen are warm, friendly, hospitable and very formal. When interacting with Iranians, one must pay attention to gestures, expressions and socially acceptable behavior. Knowing some tips on social etiquette in Iran will improve your relation with partners. To better understand Business Culture in Iran, it is wise to pay attention to some Iranians customs and acceptable social behavior.

Business Culture in Iran 101: Visiting

Iranians are very hospitable people and accord love, respect and warmth to every guest visiting their household. Decorum demands that guests bring along at least a small gift for the host. Fresh flowers, sweets, savories and pastries are commonly carried as gifts on a visit to a Persian home, although the host may display regret or shame of receiving the gift, don’t be fooled by the gestures, it is expected!

Important guests are always seated at the head of a room or a table and will be first served, but social etiquette deems refusal of these honors, and pressing them on to another person, but it is expected to be insisted and later it is accepted by the guest.  So again, don’t be fooled by their display regret or shame of receiving attention, it is expected!

Business Culture in Iran 101: Greeting

Greetings in Iranian culture are very delicate.  Younger people should greet older people and those of lower status must greet others above them first. So it is best if you always say greetings first, and don’t use short greetings like ‘Hi’ or ‘Hey’, you should formally extend your hand and say ‘Salam Alaikum’ or ‘Dorood bar Shoma.’  Physical contact in greeting people is commonly observed and Iranians can be quite physically intimate with same-sex friends, even in public.  However, in business attire there are no hugs and kisses.  Handshake of opposite-sex is forbidden, so it is best to wait for the opposite-sex to extend hand, but it is always safer to put your hand on your chest as a sign of respect and nod with your head.

Eye contact in Iran is another delicate matter.  Should you encounter a downward gaze on meeting someone in Iran do not be offended as it is a sign of respect not a sign of disinterest. A man staring at a woman is usually taken as a sign of interest, and will cause you trouble.  So it is best to avoid direct eye contact, but a smile is always helpful in every situation to show that you mean no harm or disrespect!

Business Culture in Iran 101: Complimenting

Be careful about compliments, Iranian men don’t appreciate compliments made about their wives and daughters, especially, about beauty and age!  When complementing about any of their possessions, the owner will most likely offer it to you as a present almost at once, however you should refuse it! Don’t be fooled by their insistence to take it as a gift, later they will regret giving it to you and ruin your relations.  If you really want one and don’t know where to get one, ask them to provide you with one, and they will gladly buy and give you a new one as a gift, but giving you their own, usually is a no-no!  Praising and complementing a child is largely regarded as a sign of envy, casting an “evil eye,” so you should use the term Masha’ Allah , right after showing your feelings.


Pmanagers Organization Members are here to consult and serve you on Business Culture in Iran, contact us for more information.

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1 Response

  1. February 4, 2017

    […] procedures and techniques by heart and is well experienced in use of them and is well aware of the Business Culture differences.  A separate consultant entity who doesn’t take sides and is paid from the joint […]

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