When you are doing business in a foreign country it’s important to be able to make small talk when trying to go into business with someone. In Myanmar it’s no different but the interchange can sometimes be a bit awkward as most Myanmar people don’t make a lot of small talk every day. Myanmar people aren’t particularly good at asking questions and often think about what to say but don’t say it.
I like to stick to talking about where they are from, what ethnic group they are (this is not offensive in Myanmar), the weather being super-hot or wet, food I like to eat in Myanmar and how spicy I like it, and also general things I like about Myanmar people like they are friendly and helpful. If you stick to the basics of these then you are fine.
Myanmar business culture isn’t too much focused on small talk but it can be rude to jump directly into the business conversation. You usually would have a chance to catch your breath, get comfortable, and get a tea or coffee. During that period it’s normal to have these types of small talk conversations. And when it becomes awkward, just smile and thank them for their hospitality.
Written By - Charles Ryan Russell (CEO of Myanmar Business Answers)