China is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. They have a long and cultured history. The Chinese people are renowned for their impeccable manners wherever they go. They expect people to adapt to their culture when they visit China. Call them intrusive if you must but that’s their way of asserting their presence or dominance wherever they go. This is right on their part, as one should always learn to respect the culture and law of the place where they reside. You should understand the Chinese business culture and follow the same while dealing with the Chinese in their land.
Business etiquette in China
Every country has its own business etiquette. China has its own unique one. Understanding Chinese business culture and etiquette are of paramount importance for anyone wishing to do business in China.
We shall break down the business etiquette into the following.
We shall now see how to maintain your appearance in China.
Men should wear conservative suits with the natural and subtle colors. You should have a matching tie as well. The shirt and suit color should be of contrasting styles. Women should never wear high heels or short-sleeved blouses. You should know that exposing too much if skin is not advisable in China. In fact, the Chinese frown on you if you expose too much.
In case you wear casual attire, you should wear subtle and neutral colors. Both men and women can wear jeans, but never for any formal business meetings.
Behavior and manners
Here are some Chinese etiquette dos and don’ts.
If you ever notice a Chinese man speak, you would have noticed that he would not use hand movements. You should follow the same practice and avoid using your hands when speaking in China. The host may consider it as a distraction. It is advisable to avoid personal contact. You should make it a point never to touch a woman.
You should never point while speaking. In case you feel the need to do so, you should use your open palm instead of the index finger. Never put your finger into your mouth as long as you are in China. The Chinese consider it improper for anyone to do acts involving the mouth.
Gifting is a very common occurrence in business all over the world. However, in China, it is illegal to present gift articles to Government officials. However, nowadays people do present gifts. In case you have to do so, you can do so when in a group. One of the best gifts would be a banquet. You can gift high-quality pens too.
You should note that you should never present the following gifts as the Chinese associate them with death. They are clocks, handkerchiefs, straw sandals, a stork or crane as well as anything in blue, black, or white color.
There is a huge difference between the Chinese business culture and the American business culture. You will notice the same when we compare Chinese business culture vs American business culture as far as having meals in concerned.
The Chinese expect the guest to arrive on time always. In fact, you can arrive before time also. You should make a point of never discussing business during meals. You should remember that the host makes the first move. It is a matter of courtesy that you should taste every meal on offer. You may find several courses in a meal. You can sample each one of them.
You should be careful of dealing with chopsticks. You should hold them in the appropriate way. You should also place the chopsticks on the plate in a fixed manner. Placing them straight in the bowl is not advisable as the Chinese consider it as an evil omen signifying death. Similarly, you should avoid dropping your chopsticks, as it constitutes bad luck.
You should never empty your plate while eating. The Chinese consider that you are not satiated and still feel hungry. A woman usually, does not drink while having meals. Tipping the waiter is not the practice. However, they have adapted to the Western culture and do tip their waiters now.
Chinese etiquette dos and don’ts
Before embarking on a business trip to China, every businessperson should browse the internet and have a printout of the Chinese business culture pdf-document with him. He can also have the Chinese business etiquette ppt slide on his mobile for ready reference.
We shall see some Chinese business culture facts regarding communication.
When Chinese people greet you, they usually bow or nod. Nowadays, they offer handshakes too. However, you have to wait for the Chinese to make the first move. Applauding when greeting a crowd is common. It is good manners on your part if you respond by applauding back. As far as possible, one should use formal titles for introductions.
Maintaining punctuality is very important in China. You should take up an appointment before any business meeting. The business etiquette demands that you make all contacts prior to the trip. You should have all the documents with you in person.
The Chinese take slow business decisions but the decisions are almost always instrumental. This is the main difference between the Chinese business etiquette vs American. The Chinese people are superstitious. They usually, would like to consult their stars before making any business decision.
While exchanging business cards, you should use both hands while presenting as well as receiving them. You should make it a point not to write anything on the business card. You should carry a card case with you. Using the wallet to store the card is not advisable.
The Chinese place great emphasis on rank as well as value. Hence, it makes more sense, if the highest ranked person amongst your group chairs the meeting. You should have knowledge of the Chinese working culture.
While leaving the meeting, you should always allow them to leave first.
Following the rule of the land where you stay is of utmost importance. You will gain the respect of the local people. This could go a long way in developing fruitful business as well as personal relationships with the local populace.