13 Feb All You Need To Know About Chinese Business Etiquette: Part 1
With a population of over 1.37 billion and a culture dating back thousands of years, the Chinese have traditions and customs that not only affect their personal lives but also how they conduct everyday business activities. While it can be quite a challenge to learn all the business etiquette and cultural nuances of the Chinese, we have divided all the utmost important fact for you into two parts to make the task easier. Have a look at part 1 to kick-start your success in the Chinese business environment.
1. The First Meeting and Greetings
- Bow/Nod your head in respect when meeting someone. Wait for your Chinese associate to offer a handshake as they aren’t keen on physical contact, especially between men and women
- Seniority is highly valued by the Chinese, as is the hierarchy, therefore always address the senior most person first.
- Giving your business card is a must when meeting someone for the first time as the Chinese people like knowing who it is they will be working with.
- Offer and accept business cards with both your hands, nod/bow your head in acknowledgement. Ensure that the card is printed in Chinese and English both, one on each side.
- Don’t keep the card in your wallet or pocket, it is considered disrespectful. Always carry a card case as you will receive many business cards when in China!
- Gift giving is a common practice and the Chinese appreciate the thoughtfulness very much.
2. Communication and Relationships
- The Chinese value having a strong and trustworthy relationship with their business partners and clients prior to finalizing a deal.
- Be honest, respectful, humble and patient.
- The term ‘Face’, a vital aspect of the Chinese culture, is associated with integrity, pride and self-esteem. The actions, expressions and behavior they expect and express are at par with ‘keeping their face’, i.e. safeguarding their honor, pride and self-respect. Losing Face, on the other hand, is regarded as a shameful act and could affect one’s family and business. Even a small mistake of not being a generous and kind host can cause someone to ‘lose face’.
- Guanxi: Another important aspect of the Chinese culture, Guanxi refers to the relationships and connections one builds. It holds grave importance to engage in loyal and honest relationships.
3. Time Management and Meeting Decorum
- Always be on time or a few minutes early for any and every meeting in China. The Chinese are punctual people and not only appreciate but require their business partners to be the same therefore give an arrival time only after considering the traffic, route, etc.
- If possible, schedule your business meeting a month or two in advance.
- Keep in mind the national holidays (Chinese New Year specifically) prior to setting a date for business meetings
- Remain calm and composed during a business meeting with the Chinese, they aren’t big fans of loud expressions or gestures.
- The seating arrangement in a business meeting in China is based on seniority therefore the senior most members will usually take the seat at the head of the table.
- Set an agenda for the meeting and ensure that the information is provided to both the parties before it commences.
- If you aren’t a fluent speaker of the Chinese languages, bring along an interpreter and brief them with your objectives for the meeting in advance to smoothen the process at the time.
- Any written material should be presented in English as well as in Chinese and visual material is ideal when in color.
- In the Chinese business culture, a ‘yes’ can be just a notion for understanding the information and not an agreement of any sort.
- Unless a definite ‘yes’ is given to close a deal, don’t assume it is so! The Chinese rarely say ‘no’ as it is quite blunt an action (which may cause the person to lose face) but phrases such as “We’ll think about it” or “We’ll look into it” are considered almost as good as a refusal.
The Chinese business culture and etiquette may seem like a handful and can be quite vast but a simple brush up on this knowledge is bound to put you and your business in their good books for a long and successful period of time.
Continue reading more about the Chinese business etiquette with the second part right here! Become an expert in Chinese business etiquette by speaking their language, start learning Chinese with us now!