Chinese Business Etiquette

by Claire Valenty on January 22, 2010

in International Business Etiquette

international china etiquette

Chinese culture is 4000 years old and the oldest civilization in the world also boasts a wide array of strict rules and regulations especially when it comes to business.

But you are wondering how difficult could it be! Answer this question about Chinese Business Etiquette and find out:

During the meeting you notice that one of your Chinese hosts is getting really uncomfortable. How does he behave to make you feel that?

1. He walks out while swearing.
2. He laughs.
3. He shuts his eyes.

The correct answer is 2.

When in China, be calm, quiet and collected. It is considered a sign of measured thought and intelligence. Chinese prefer harmony and balance in everything so be careful of your face expressions. Use handshakes to greet your Chinese counterparts and start with the oldest person. A short and light handshake is expected. Don’t get to business immediately, start with small talk and then onto more important matters.

Chinese Business Etiquette orders that you use correct titles when addressing someone. Remember, title follows the Surname and not the First name. Chinese take their time in making personal relationships and business is conducted only on the basis of personal know-how of a person. You might have to make several round trips to China before a deal is finalized. Be patient! The Chinese are very good at figuring out when their cooperation is badly needed and they WILL use the situation to their advantage.

Take many business cards with you. Have your credentials engraved in Chinese on the back… in gold! In china it is a symbol of prestige. When presented with a business card don’t just stuff in your pocket! It is a major insult to the Chinese; instead take your time to admire the details.

Chinese Business Etiquettes require that a personal space is maintained between individuals. Private space is treasured and all kinds of contact even eye contact is considered bad.

Gift giving is also a very sensitive topic. If bringing gifts for everyone make sure the ones for senior team members are more expensive. If getting a gift for the boss only, present it in private. Good options include lighters and alcoholic drinks! And it should all be wrapped in Red!

Chinese Business Etiquette are a very formal set of rules made to be followed precisely although for good business many Chinese businessmen are willing to bend them… just a little!

Photo: 123rf/Ashwin Kharidehal Abhirama

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