Hello culture enthusiasts!
Chances are that you’ve stumbled upon this post because you’re working/ will be working in a Korean company, or amongst Korean people.
Or hey, maybe you’re just interested in Korean culture!
First things first, I must clarify that these tips are based on my personal experience working in a Korean company and alongside Korean people.
On with it!
Koreans have specific greetings for almost every social situation. Of course it’s not compulsory for you to know and use them, but these are imperative if you want to make a good impression. You might even be expected to have done your homework!
Let’s break it down:
Meeting someone for the first time: Nice to meet you 만나서 반갑습니다 (Mannaseo bangapseumnida)
Greeting your colleagues when you arrive at work: Hello 안녕하세요 (Annyeonghaseyo)
You’re leaving at the end of the day: Goodbye 안녕히 계세요 (Annyeonghi Khyeseyo) You’ve worked hard! 수고했어요! (Sugohessoyo!)
Your colleague is leaving before you: Goodbye 안녕히 가세요 (Annyeonghi Khaseyo) You’ve worked hard! 수고했어요! (Sugohessoyo!)
These phrases are very commonplace in Korean work culture, and your colleagues will definitely appreciate your effort!
Korean people brush their teeth after every meal. Having a toothbrush and toothpaste at the desk is a common practice.
You will definitely see your Korean colleagues carry their toothbrush and toothpaste to the washroom after they finish their meals.
At first, I was surprised, but soon I started feeling like I should brush my teeth too.
It’s only polite to have fresh breath around the people you spend 8 hours a day with! Plus it helped boost my confidence when addressing others in close contact!
Minty fresh all day, errday!
Korean Companies emphasise a lot on team building activities. Companies often organise lunch or dinner for everyone on special occasions, go out for drinks and karaoke, and even plan overnight trips.
These social activities allow colleagues to bond outside of the work environment and have a better understanding of each other.
Of course it’s back to work the next day, but everyone will get along better and work well together.
So prepare some karaoke songs and get ready to socialise!
Korean people cannot stress enough on punctuality. I have seen my bosses get angry at clients for not showing up on time for meetings, and even go as far as to not work with them in the future.
How punctual a person is, defines how seriously they take their work. This is a clear indication of whether they can be trusted with sensitive work or not.
The general feeling is that we all have personal issues and if we can make it on time, then so can you!
So always be on time! You’ll definitely gain your colleagues’ respect!
Working in a foreign cultural environment can be daunting, but it can be exciting and a good learning experience too! Don’t be phased by the unknown! Embrace it!