What is the etiquette for meeting in Indonesia?

  • Greetings are a way to convey respect and are formal in approach. ‘Selamet’ is the word commonly used to greet.
  • Along with shaking hands, some persons also bow a little and place their hands on their chest as greeting.
  • If many persons are present, start greeting the one who is senior-most.
  • Address persons with their names along with appropriate titles. Titles are given huge prominence.
  • Traditional Indonesians have one name only. However, the emerging middle class is opting for a surname as well.
  • Some ethnic Indonesians have extremely lengthy names. In such cases, a pet name is kept to make it easy.
  • Some foreign communities have adapted Indonesian names for themselves over the years. However, some choose to follow their inherent tradition.

What is the proper etiquette for gift giving in Indonesia?

  • The choice of gifts heavily depends on the community a person belongs to.

Gift Giving etiquette for the Chinese:

  • Refuse to accept the gift initially as a sign of humility.
  • Refrain from gifting cutting tools as they have negative connotations.
  • Chose golden or red coloured wrapping paper. Wrapping is given prominence.
  • It is not alright to open the gift in the presence of the giver.

Gift Giving etiquette for ethnic Malays/Muslims

  • Refrain from gifting products which have alcoholic content in them.
  • Do not gift eatables which are not Halal. Also, as Muslims are averse of pigs, do not gift anything that has gelatine in it.
  • Make use of the right hand while gifting or receiving.
  • It is not alright to open the gift in the presence of the giver.

Gift giving etiquette for ethnic Indians:

  • Refrain from using your left hand while receiving or gifting.
  • Wrap the present in attractive wrapping paper in bright colours.
  • Remember not to gift any item which has been made from leather to Hindus.
  • Refrain from gifting drinks with alcoholic contents.
  • It is not alright to open the gift in the presence of the giver.

What is the proper etiquette for eating in Indonesia?

  • There are no definite table manners. The behaviour to be adopted depends on the situation and context.
  • You will be shown to your seat.
  • There will be a big serving bowl of food kept in the middle of the table. However, do not serve the food unless it’s offered.
  • In case food is laid out in buffet style, guests are supposed to serve themselves. You may offer to let the others serve themselves first out of politeness.
  • In conventional events, men are given priority over women while being served.
  • Start consuming your food only after you are indicated to.
  • The eating utensils provided will be a spoon and a fork. You may make use of your hand for certain dishes.
  • Never make use of your left hand while handling food.

Things you should know before going to Indonesia?

  • Persons of varying ethnicities are found in Indonesia. Thus, familiarize yourself with these communities and what behaviour works best with them.
  • Indonesia is a Muslim majority country. However, not all Indonesians are Muslims.
  • People are highly dependent on each other for all things in Indonesia. Family and one’s village are given huge importance.
  • Instead of voting over important issues, a solution is reached by discussion.
  • Know about the power positioning in the society. Even though some things are discussed, major decisions will still need the top person’s agreement.
  • Refrain from causing embarrassment to others.
  • Indonesians do not follow timetables strictly and aren’t very punctual. However, you must never be late yourself. 
  • Be formal in your approach at all times.

Also Read: Business etiquette to follow in Indonesia

Last update on February 2, 12:41 pm by Nidhi S.