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Business and Social Etiquette In China

Business meetings

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Speak in short, simple, sentences free of jargon and slang. Pause frequently, so that people will be able to understand everything you've said.

Presentation materials of any kind should be only in black and white. Colours are attributed special meanings in this culture, many of them negative. Have some copies ready for distribution.

Except for those educated in the West, Chinese business-people largely rely on subjective feelings and personal experiences in forming opinions and solving problems.

"Saving face" is an important concept to understand. In Chinese business culture, a person's reputation and social standing rests on this concept. Causing embarrassment or loss of composure, even unintentionally, can be disastrous for business negotiations.

In accordance with Chinese business protocol, people are expected to enter the meeting room in hierarchical order. For example, the Chinese will assume that the first foreigner to enter the room is head of the delegation.

In Chinese business culture, humility is a virtue. Exaggerated claims are regarded with suspicion and, in most instances, will be investigated.

The Chinese will not directly say "no" to you. Instead, ambivalent answers such as "perhaps", "I'm not sure", "I'll think about it", or "We'll see" usually mean "no."

Be patient, show little emotion, and calmly accept that delays will occur.

At the end of a meeting, you are expected to leave before your Chinese counterparts.

You may have to make several trips to China to achieve your objectives. Chinese businesspeople prefer to establish a strong relationship before closing a deal.

(24/05/2006)

 

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