If you are planning to launch your business in China, then learning certain Chinese business culture and etiquette will prove immensely helpful. Chinese culture dates back to thousands of years and is not only something that they follow in their personal lives, but in their professional lives as well.
You won’t learn the entire business culture of China just by researching and reading. It will ultimately take you some time to get used to the prevalent customs and traditions. However, you must be aware of the broad areas that would help you in the day to day business activities.
Here is a quick crash course in Chinese business culture that will give you working knowledge about their traditions:
The proper way to introduce yourself in China is to let the most senior person in the delegation introduce everyone. This is considered as a sign of respect for others around. Similarly, when entering a meeting room or hall, the most senior person should be allowed to enter first, followed by the rest of the delegation.
Keep your handshakes brief, and maintain eye contact with the other person for long. Do not point your fingers to anyone when you are addressing them, as it is considered to be quite rude. If you want someone’s attention, it is better to point your palm towards them.
Regardless of how you much you despise formal dressing, it is better to wear formal clothes in all business meetings. Wear a jacket and a tie, and only then will your Chinese business partners take you seriously. This goes for women too.
Women shouldn’t wear short skirts, as they aren’t much appreciated in formal settings.
You must have your business cards printed in English and Mandarin before going to China. It is a good idea to have Mandarin printed on one side and English on the other. When you are presenting it to someone, present it with both hands with the Mandarin side on the top.
Use your both hands when receiving a business card as well. Don’t put away the business card as soon as it is handed out to you. Take a good look at it as if you are reading it intently, and then put it in your card holder or pocket.
Business cards are revered in business culture in China, and are often considered as an extension of the person himself/herself. It is imperative that you give it appropriate respect.
If you are visiting China to look for logical partners, then you must be prepared for some long dinner meetings. Chinese have long meetings with someone before dealing with them to determine whether they can trust that person or not.
They often have several courses in the dinner as well, and you are expected to taste each and every dish as a sign of respect. You may not like them, but are expected to taste them nonetheless. But don’t worry, as you aren’t expected to finish all your food, as Chinese often consider it disrespect to have food finished on the table, which is why they always order extra.
It is important that you avoid any rude humour as well as sarcasm. You must exude professionalism, and portray yourself as a person who is completely in control with your emotions.
However, don’t try too hard to impress your potential business partners. Be yourself and show authenticity. Being true to oneself is something that is extremely appreciated in China.
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