Praveeni Perera. Photo via FT
I’m hosting Good Morning Sri Lanka (MTV Sports) this morning and feel that I should prepare. So might as well prepare here. The first guest is Wolfgang Schneider of the Theatre Festival. The next guest is Praveeni Perera, a Sri Lankan in Canada who just conducted a seminar on business etiquette in Colombo.
I’m skeptical in general, but I think this is actually a really big issue in Sri Lanka. What separates people from jobs or people from management is not so much education or skills as social skills. Specifically, language and, for lack of a better word, class. Higher levels of business tend to be conducted in English and in a more ‘westernized’ way. Hence someone from an old boy school that spoke English at home can walk in, whereas someone who studied Uni level or above often struggles.
To a degree this is elitist, but people also need to learn those skills to participate in international business, as any large business inevitably is. The main questions I’m interested in asking are whether this can really be learned (or if it depends on family and culture) and whether perhaps Sri Lankan business also needs to adapt to get the best talent. For example, I still think western dress is insane in this climate, especially leather shoes.
Anyways, here’s some possible questions. I’ve actually tried to read some of her news interviews, especially this one in FT, to prepare.
Getting The Job
- Is English necessary for corporate success?
- How much information should be on a resume?
- What’s a good handshake? When should you not shake hands?
- Is a hug ever appropriate? A chest bump?
- What if you didn’t go to a known school? How can you make a connection?
On The Job
- If you’re in a really long meeting and you’re falling asleep, what can you do?
- What if you get an erection as the meeting ends? What’s a prudent exit strategy?
- How drunk should you get at office parties?
- At what point does joking become sexual harrassment?
- First salary/birthday treat – social custom or extortion?
- When you forget names, is machang appropriate?
- Can you bring in a third person, get them to introduce each other, then figure out the name?
- Suits are really hot, is there a tropical alternative?
- Socks are a misery, do I have to wear them?
- Some businessmen get really fat, is that good presentation?
- Some people put their whole educational history on business cards, is that necessary?
- Deodorant use, how’s that going?
What I really want to know is if it’s cool to skip office treats and trips. And whether there is some alternative to office wear. Anyways, we’ll see. The show is at 7 am this morning. Honestly, I wouldn’t wake up if I wasn’t on it.