Negotiation Practices and Etiquette in Chad
Chad, or to give the place its full name The Republic of Chad, is in Central Africa. Libya lies to the North, Sudan to the East, the Central African Republic to the South, Cameroon and Nigeria to the West. It has a largely desert climate and is often referred to as "The Dead Heart of Africa."
Most of the residents are in agriculture and the main export is cotton and Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world with the annual average income being $200. The economic fortunes of the country are now changing with the discovery of oil deposits in the Doba Basin in the South West.
The foreign relations of Chad are primarily motivated by a strong desire for outside investment and anyone interested in putting money into the country will be welcomed with open arms.
To negotiate in Chad a knowledge of French is essential. French and Arabic are the official languages and there are no professional translators available. The best time to conduct business negotiations in Chad are between November and May.
There is a strong dining etiquette in the country. If you are visiting a home uninvited never arrive at mealtimes. If you are invited to a meal expect to sit on a mat on the floor and tuck your feet in. Men and women eat seperately and your feet must not point toward other guests or the food.
All food must be eaten with the right hand and guests should not begin eating until the host advises them to do so. There are a number of taboos connected with dining etiquette
- Giving eggs to children will turn them into thieves in adulthood.
- Pregnant women should not be given too much food to avoid them producing fat babies.
It is in order to conduct business negotiations over a meal but business lunch etiquette is strongly followed in Chad. A business lunch should be arranged at least a week in advance and the guests should be telephoned on the morning of the meal to confirm.
The host should try and find out the guests food likes and dislikes so an appropriate restaurant can be chosen and it should be nearer to the guests' than the host who should be prepared to travel.
In large cities business lunches take place at 1pm, in smaller communities they are usually arranged for 12 noon. The table should be booked well in advance and the host should make it known that he or she is paying for the meal and will be responsible for the tips.
The host should never be late and should arrive before the guests so he or she can wait in the lobby to greet them and escort them to the table.
Following the meal it is customary for the host to write a note to the guests saying how nice it was to dine with them and briefly recap on any business matters that were discussed.
Chad is made up of different religious groups but each group strongly adheres to long-established Chad custom. One of the main groups is Taubou or Daza and they live like nomads. They believe strongly in the custom of marriage and families consist of a head, generally the husband, a wife and children.
If you have reason to negotiate with anyone in this group it is the wife who makes all the major decisions and all their lawful customs are based on compensation and revenge.
Chad Arabs form an important part of the overall population of the country and they also respect the institution of marriage and live in close-knit families. If you negotiate with them make sure you are well prepared as Arabs are born to trade and are formidable at the negotiating table.