19 Feb All You Need To Know About Chinese Business Etiquette: Part 2
Learning everything about Chinese business etiquette and culture can be quite an overwhelming task but not impossible one! Here’s the second part of our Chinese Business Etiquette blog series to ease your learning of the exquisite culture.
1. Dress Code and Body Language
- In China, work attire is required to be conservative and modest.
- For men, suits are the ideal office wear and women are expected to wear either suits or modest, formal dresses.
- Women should avoid low necklines or clothes that are too revealing as such garments are frowned upon by the Chinese.
- Subtle and neutral colors are the norm.
- Be very aware and conscious of your body language and movements.
- Retain an attentive and formal posture when in a business meeting.
- Keep your hand movements and gestures to a minimum as they are often considered to be distracting by the Chinese.
- If you wish to stress importance on a piece of information or a thing during the meeting, don’t point with your finger! It is considered rude. Instead, use your whole hand to accentuate its importance.
- Don’t fidget, snap your fingers or whistle during a meeting as it goes against the decorum of the business environment.
2. Superstitions and Traditions
- The number 4 is considered unlucky as it sounds very similar to the word for ‘death’ in Mandarin. The numbers 6 and 8, on the other hand, are regarded as blessings for progress and wealth, respectively.
- When giving someone a gift, avoid the following items as they are associated with death in one way or another: Clocks, Straw Sandals, Stork/Cane, Handkerchiefs and items of blue, white or black color.
3. Wining & Dining
- No shop talk! While it is acceptable to discuss social topics and general company news, talking about the business deal or negotiation isn’t. The objective of dining is to discuss pleasantries and build a relationship.
- Don’t start eating before the host as it can be considered disrespectful.
- Food is often shared therefore remember to serve others before serving yourself.
- As a cultural courtesy, taste all the dishes served unless you are allergic to something.
- A banquet usually consists of more than 10 courses so eat in consistency as well and taste everything you can.
- Unlike in other countries, the Chinese don’t look at an empty plate as a good sign. In their opinion, if the plate is left empty after a meal, it means that there wasn’t enough food provided which can cause the host to lose face. Therefore, finish the meal with a little leftover food in your plate.
- Learn to use chopsticks! Many authentic Chinese restaurants provide only chopsticks as cutlery therefore acquiring this skill shall definitely help you in the long run.
- Never place your chopsticks upright in your bowl as it is a custom done at funerals. Always place them on their resting stand.
- Don’t wave your chopsticks around when they are not in use and don’t drop them either, it’s considered bad luck.
- Tipping isn’t an encouraged practice and many restaurants firmly refuse it. However, with recent globalization, it is becoming a more common repetition day by day.
- Drinking is an important aspect of entertainment for the Chinese. If you are asked to join after work drinking plans, you must go! It’s part of building a relationship (Gaunxi). You can always refuse drinks, at a banquet or otherwise, citing health or religious reasons.
- Should your host invite you to their place, consider it a great honor, arrive on time and remove your shoes before entering their premises. You must also bring a gift for the hostess to show your gratitude.
- If you are inviting someone out for a meal, don’t set the timing too late. The Chinese usually prefer 18:00 pm for dinner.
- The host pays the bill! Whoever may be the host for the night, you or your Chinese associate, they shall pick up the bill for night.
- Lastly, do no pick up the last piece of a dish unless offered by the host because it may make you seem greedy!
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