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Business Culture and Etiquette in Iran

Understanding each country’s unique culture would be the major key to success in its local market. Working and doing business in Iran also requires you to know and understand its customs and culture.

However, in this article the working culture in Iran would be discussed to provide further details for expats and foreigners who are interested in Iran and the job opportunities there.

To be able to have good relations with your Iranian business partners and colleagues, you first need to understand some of the deep roots in the Iranian culture. Here are some of the concepts which you should be aware of when visiting Iran.


Respecting family members at high level and greeting the aged people among Iranians are very common. Be informed that caring about local employees’ family could bring lots of respects!


Hospitality is a main part of the Iranian culture. Displaying welcoming behavior is essential for a host to illustrate his/her reputation and character. Accepting offered hospitality delivers a positive message while refusing it, doesn’t!


Taarof is a concept in the Iranian culture to show respect to one another. Indeed, it’s about acknowledgement of other people who are in a same status. For instance, while you and your Iranian colleague want to open the door it would bring respect to the person who allows the other to step in first. Taarof plays a very important role in the Iranian culture and understanding it could help you clarify this ritual!

Religious beliefs:

99.4% of Iranians are Muslim and 90-95% of them are Shi’a. Since religion is also a part of the Iranian culture, knowing related traditions and beliefs are very important to be aware of them. For instance, women’s dress code and interacting with females in an organization are some examples that requires to know more details about religious matters.

Indirect communications:

Indirect communication and relying on nonverbal cues are very common. So, direct answers like direct refusal could be interrupted as rude.

Food etiquette:

While preparing the best food with best decorations are vital for an Iranian host, eating the whole food on your plate delivers a respectful message too! Since many meetings are over lunch or dinner, knowing these may help you reach a good deal with your Iranian colleague!

Meeting etiquette:

Exchanging gifts in meetings are very common. It could create a good image of you if you don’t enter the meeting empty handed! Also, be informed that time is very important but be ready for some delays and taking long meetings! Reaching agreements in Iran may take longer in comparison to western countries.

Working etiquette:

  • The working week begins on Saturday and includes 44 hours per week. Due to time flexibility, it is common that working hours tend to be from 9:00 am to 17:00 with some overtime to make Thursday as a rest day.
  • Friday is a day of rest. So don’t make appointments or expect follow ups for your projects on Friday!
  • Considering one hour among working hour in the afternoon for praying and lunch time is common. If you set meetings around this time, it delivers a rude message.
  • Be informed about top down hierarchy in organizations and use the correct formal title while addressing your Iranian colleague.
  • As most of decisions would be made by the directors, don’t put pressure on people who you think are decision makers while they aren’t!

If you want to be successful in doing business in Iran then you must understand the people, culture and etiquettes. Knowing more about the Iranian culture could enable you to enhance your experience in Iran.

Published @ Techrasa

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