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How Hiya Can Make or Break Your Business in the Philippines

The Philippines is geographically and culturally unique. Its placement between the Pacific and Indian Oceans make it perfect for shipping. This has led to major cultural blending. The Philippines has had its share of influences, including Spanish and American. As a result, the Philippine population is one of the most distinct in the Asia-Pacific region.

 

Some traits and attitudes of Filipinos share that same complexity. It’s important to understand the value system and communication style when visiting the archipelago nation. Doing so will verse you in the regional culture, and make travel and small business dealings much easier.

 

It’s important to understand the value system and communication style when visiting the archipelago nation

 

The Philippine trait hiya can pose a particular challenge to visitors unaware of the local culture. We want to help broaden the scope of your small business, and international dealings are a sure-fire way to do that. With that in mind, we’re going to help you understand Philippine hiya and how it can make or break your business dealings. Whether you’re looking for a supplier or just taking in the sights, learning about Philippine culture is crucial.

 
 

What is Hiya?

 
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In Philippine culture, hiya is generally defined and translated to mean “shyness” or “shame.” Hiya is also related to “pride” and is connected to self-esteem or self-image. It occurs in many instances, such as not being able to pay a bill, provide for one’s family, or being generally unreliable. The feeling is akin to embarrassment, and is avoided at all costs.

 

Yet, the fear of this form of hiya may be just as important as its actual occurrence. If a person feels slighted, it may be considered a feeling of hiya, even though it’s only perceived. For example, bringing a gift of food to a business lunch or dinner can be viewed as a slight against the host, as if they were unable to provide for their guests. This is also referred to as “losing face,” or losing respectability among peers. This form of hiya may be the most commonly known, and most feared form.

 

In Philippine culture, hiya is generally defined and translated to mean 'shyness' or 'shame.'

 

So, what does hiya have to do with small businesses and international trade?

 

Putting your potential partners into such a situation will greatly affect your success. This will all depend on the situation, but a good method is to avoid anything that may imply your Philippine partner is lesser, unreliable, or unable to perform a task. The above example of giving a gift of food is a great illustration of what we mean.

 

As well, especially in a business deal, hiya is directly related to pakikisama.

 

Pakikisama

Don’t worry, this one isn’t as complex as hiya. Pakikisama is the concept of a smooth relationship, and being non-confrontational. It’s important for Philippine business people to conduct a negotiation without conflict, and is related to saving face.

 

The best advice we can give to avoid conflict in Philippine business is to take things slow.

 

Generally, Philippine suppliers will do anything they can to avoid saying no. Refusal creates conflict in a negotiation, and causes one or both sides to lose face. This will generally put a halt to further negotiations, even if you get a “yes” out of them. Yes often means “perhaps,” and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

 
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Avoiding conflict altogether is your best bet. Like with hiya, avoid any situation where your Philippine partner refuses an offer or displays excessive emotion. For example, “lowballing” or “highballing” aren’t useful tactics in Philippine business. These methods rely on an initial no and later compromise.

 

The best advice we can give to avoid conflict in Philippine business is to take things slow. Don’t be overly aggressive when negotiating. Don’t be frank, as you may come off as uncultured and will make people feel uncomfortable. Your best bet is to do what will irk most US small business people – beat around the bush.

 

Though it might be a culture shock, it’s even more important to avoid conflict with sensitive topics such as Philippine politics, and payment.

 

Play the game, engage in small talk, and build a relationship with your supplier. Allowing the practices to play out and respecting Philippine values will take you further in your negotiations than overly-forward tactics ever will. Though it might be a culture shock, it’s even more important to avoid conflict with sensitive topics such as Philippine politics, and payment.

 

By using Veem, your Philippine suppliers can receive payments easily, quickly, and without hidden banking fees. International wire transfers to the Philippines can cost upwards of $45 through legacy banks. Your small business enjoys a favorable rate of exchange, low transfer fees, and a payment tracking system by using Veem. Don’t let payments stress your negotiations. Let Veem simplify your international finances.

 

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