±JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER
±Compare Expat Providers
±Expat Focus Partners
±Latest Financial Articles
· 10 Things To Think About Before You Move Abroad In Your Middle Age
· Expat Focus Financial Update August 2017
· What Could Higher Interest Rates Mean For Your Overseas Property Purchase?
· Expat Focus Financial Update July 2017
· The Lifestyles And Cultures Of Great Expat Locations
· Understanding Exchange Rates for Your Overseas Property Purchase
· Interview With Duncan Khoury, Head of Marketing, World First Australia
· Expat Focus Financial Update June 2017
· Relocation Destinations For The Politically Minded And Socially Progressive Expat
Business CultureBack to top Back to main Skip to menu
South Africa - Business Culture
Business is transactional in nature in South Africa, and it is not necessary to spend a long time building up personal relationships. However, networking is important, and it will help your credibility to be introduced by an existing South African contact. Face to face meetings are generally preferred.
There are eleven official languages in South Africa, but English is most commonly used in business. All written materials should be provided in both English and Afrikaans.
You should make appointments in advance and be sure to arrive on time, as South Africans are very punctual. Normal office hours are 8.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Avoid scheduling meetings between mid-December and mid-January, or the Easter period, as many South Africans take holidays at these times.
Although business attire is fairly informal in some companies, you should dress smartly and conservatively for initial meetings. Dark trousers, long-sleeved shirts and ties, or tropical lightweight suits, are appropriate for men, and smart blouses and skirts, or dresses, for women.
Although greeting styles differ between ethnic groups, it is most common for South Africans to shake hands with foreign visitors. People should be addressed by Mr or Ms/Mrs and their surname. Good eye contact is important as this indicates sincerity.
Meetings are fairly relaxed, with considerable time allowed for initial small talk. Refreshments are normally provided. Initial meetings are often just for the purpose of getting to know one another. Business lunches and dinners are also commonly held.
Communication and negotiation styles are quite informal and relaxed. South Africans often try to avoid confrontation or bargaining, preferring to arrive at a position of mutual advantage. Avoid high-pressure sales tactics, as these are disliked in South Africa. Never raise your voice, as this will be perceived as aggressive, or interrupt anyone while they are speaking.
It is normal practice to confirm agreements and action points in writing after the meeting.
The decision-making process can be quite lengthy; decisions are usually made at senior levels of the company, but in consultation with others as necessary.
It is not normal practice to give gifts in South African business, but you should take a small gift of flowers, chocolates or wine if invited to someone's home.
Read more about this country
Expat Health Insurance Partners
Our award-winning expatriate business provides health benefits to more than 650,000 members worldwide. In addition, we have helped develop world-class health systems for governments, corporations and providers around the world. We want to be the global leader in delivering world-class health solutions, making quality health care more accessible and empowering people to live healthier lives.
At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.
Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.