Doing business in a foreign country is never as straightforward as in your home country. Nigeria is no exception, as there are numerous unwritten rules that can make or break your deal if you don’t pay attention.
Check and re-check on your negotiations: Stick around for a while after making a deal, rather than heading back home on a plane the next day. Negotiations in Nigeria are “fluid,” according to CNN. You should keep on eye on the deal you’ve made to make sure it goes through.
Know that yes doesn’t always mean yes: In Nigeria, someone you do business with might say yes to a deal, even if he doesn’t have the means or the intentions to see it through. It’s not a form of manipulation — it’s an understood sign of respect to say “yes.” After that, further discussion might take place that shows the “yes” was a “maybe.”
Expect to bargain: In Nigeria, it isn’t considered rude to negotiate a price or the terms of a deal, and the person you’re meeting with isn’t being rude by trying to do it. In fact, bargaining is expected.
Know the right people: More than any law or regulation, knowing the right people in Nigeria will ensure your deals go through. Internations.org suggests you develop a relationship with your colleagues and superiors in Nigeria before attempting to do business.
Don’t finish your food: If you’re having a business meeting over a meal, do not finish your food. Eating everything on your plate implies you’re still hungry, and that you were not provided with enough food.
Forget physical boundaries: Nigerians don’t keep distance between themselves when speaking, the way that Americans do. So don’t be surprised if someone you meet in business stands very close to you when you speak. Do not back away — just adjust your expectations. This is more true for interactions between male colleagues, than interactions between mixed-gender groups of business people.
Expect drop-ins: Nigerian business meetings are rarely held in a private office or secluded area. It’s acceptable for family members, friends or other associates to drop in unannounced, and for the individual you’re meeting with to give them his or her audience.
Expect to get personal: Expect a good portion of the meeting to be spent talking about family and health matters. In America or the UK it may seem inappropriate for colleagues to inquire at length about your mother’s operation, for example, but in Nigeria it’s a way for your business partners to try to get to know what kind of person you are.
Use last names: You should call business colleagues “Mr” or “Mrs” [insert last name], unless invited to do otherwise. Do not take liberties by calling someone by their first name. Nigeria’s business culture is less formal than America’s or Australia’s in some ways, but in this way, it’s more formal, like the UK.
Go easy on the eye contact: Making a lot of eye contact with a Nigerian could be misconstrued as rude or aggressive. Nigerians don’t use eye contact as much as the U.S. or the rest of the Western world. Refrain from doing too much of it.This article originally appeared on our sister site, AFKInsider.com.