The Walls That Build The Filipino Workplace

Chikee Tiu
November 6, 2018

The Walls That Build The Filipino Workplace

The success of overseas work experiences relies on one’s ability to adjust to the local culture. Culture guides decision-making, behavior, thinking patterns and values. Culture influences interactions between people in the workplace. Whether you’re building a business in the archipelago, planning to hire Filipino employees, or are stationed in the Philippines, here’s what you need to know.

Life After Work

Establishing an amicable relationship between your co-workers or business partners is the first thing you want to do before getting to business. Note that building friendship and trust is a prerequisite to a successful business relationship. It is important that you take every opportunity to engage with your colleagues or business partners in informal conversation, whether it be during lunch breaks, after-work dinners, or social gatherings.

Take time to be acquainted with the locals at your organization before pushing your agendas forward. Once an amicable bond is established, any talk of business would then be welcomed.  But because of the Filipinos’ indirect approach in dealing with negotiations, getting to conclusions can be slow, but it is best to dance to the pace they set when discussing official business matters.

‘Pakikisama’: Getting Along With Filipinos

What keeps the workplace dynamics smooth in the Philippines is ‘pakikisama’, which means going or getting along with others. This Filipino trait encourages one to maintain good friendship and harmony with others or to avoid disapproval, opposition, tension and outright dismal friction in the workplace.

Confrontation is highly discouraged. Filipinos have this concept of ‘hiya’, or a strong sense of shame or losing face, which is felt when they are in publicly confronted with criticism or embarrassed.This can lead to significant resentment that may not be apparent behind friendly appearances.

When providing feedback, it is best to come off as constructive rather than critical. When giving suggestions or corrections, make sure that it will not lead to them feeling ‘hiya’. In general, Filipinos avoid confrontation and may not come to you with difficulties they may be having. It is typical of FIlipinos to avoid directness and hesitation to address issues or concerns. However, it is likely that they will be more open to you if you continue to engage with them and establish trust between each other.  

To make a successful working experience in the Philippines, just take note of how socialization and relationship-building are at the core of the Filipino culture. Should you succeed on both, it’s likely that you’ll succeed on your future business dealings within the walls of the Filipino workplace.


Antoinette Tiu started writing as a student journalist at age 11. Ten years later, she still finds herself at the service of creating meaningful content for her readers. When she isn’t writing, you can find her finishing an oil painting, taking portraits and stories of locals (wherever she may be based), or recreating runway looks on her Instagram.

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