Culture and Customs of Angola (Cultures and Customs of the World)

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There are, however, some established protocols for Angolan conversation. Above all, interrupting someone when they are speaking is considered the height of rudeness; especially if they are older or hold a more senior position. Gesticulating is common in Angola and conversations can become pretty animated, hand and head gestures are used to convey both positive and negative emotions. It is important to note that the Angolan people feel an overwhelming desire to please others, therefore there is a tendency to tell people what they think they would like to hear.

Getting a definitive answer can be somewhat tricky, especially when a truthful response would be negative.


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Although they are slowly changing, there are still distinct gender roles in Angola. It is not acceptable for women to make direct eye contact when in conversation with men. Dining Angolans will tend to invite guests to their houses rather than eating out. If invited to eat at an Angolan household, dress as you would in a formal business environment; making an effort with your appearance is a sign of respect to your host.

Food is usually served communally and etiquette dictates that the eldest person present serves themselves first from the communal plate.

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If invited by your host to have a second serving, it is customary to decline on the first asking. If you are asked a second time it is polite to accept. Conducting business Angolans traditionally only like to do business with people that they know and trust, so establishing a personal relationship with associates before discussing business is important. A strong influence from Portuguese colonialism remains and impacts the way in which business is conducted, especially in the capital Luanda. It is as formal as in much of the western world and suits are commonplace in business environments.

Agendas and timetables, however, are not a feature of Angolan business.

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Encouraging Angolans to adhere to a strict, itemised agenda would not be recommended. The Angolans are never in a rush, they have a slower pace of doing business and of life in general; they are nevertheless generally very hardworking.

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Most importantly, be aware that during an initial meeting business is not discussed, nor should business ever be discussed in social situations. A handshake is the most common form of greeting in Angola, at gatherings each guest should shake hands individually. The Angolans are very comfortable with closeness, so when speaking directly to someone there is no need to worry about intruding on their personal space. Angolans will tend to invite guests to their houses rather than eating out.

Angolans traditionally only like to do business with people that they know and trust, so establishing a personal relationship with associates before discussing business is important. Toggle navigation.


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Portuguese, Bantu and other African languages. Cross-Cultural Training. Doing Business Angola The long-lasting civil war has adversely affected the Angolan economy. Only some offices are open on Saturdays. Angolans have a more flexible attitude towards time so do not be surprised if business meetings or social events begin late. Schedule business appointments as far in advance as possible, preferably a month or two before the intended visit. Always confirm the appointment by calling the day before. Structure and hierarchy in Angolan companies Business organisations in Angola tend to be hierarchical.

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Status is important in Angolan society and respect should be given to supervisors and work colleagues. In Angolan companies decision-making power typically lies with the most senior person at the top of the company. However, similar to many other African cultures, final decisions are often made following consultation with subordinates. Traditional divisions of labour are not always possible due to pressing financial needs.

Both genders are equally represented in the workforce. Nevertheless, there are discrepancies between the sexes as women still have a much lower literacy rate, lower wages and less influence in politics than men. Working relationships in Angola Personal relationships are vital in Angola as Angolans prefer to do business with people they know and trust.

Before going into business, take time to get to know your Angolan counterparts. It is viewed as very offensive to most Angolans if the proper respect for an elder is not shown, especially in more rural areas. Food is often served in a communal bowl, especially during traditional meals. The eldest in the group is the first one to take food from the bowl. Greetings are very important in Angola so always spend time during the greeting process. Initial introductions in Angolan business are formal.


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Handshakes are generally exchanged before and after business meetings, but the grip is generally softer than those used in the western world. Business attire tends to be casual in Angola.

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Men usually wear lightweight suits and women often wear long skirts. Dress well as it shows respect to your Angolan counterparts. Initial meetings are about establishing personal rapport and developing mutual trust, two vital elements in Angolan business culture. At this stage, judgments are made before any further business negotiations are conducted. Relationship building and networking are paramount to secure long term business success in Angola.

Knowledge of Portuguese is an advantage and people generally do not speak English outside of the oil industry.

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If you do not have a proficient knowledge of Portuguese it is wise to bring an interpreter to meetings. Angolan Culture Quiz — True or False 1. When having a conversation, Angolans try to look straight in the eyes of their interlocutor.



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