1. Executive Summary Business today is becoming more universal and it is common to travel around the world for business dealings. In order to clinch a business deal with parties of other countries, it is essential to do some research about the country first. This will provide critical information about their business tradition, etiquette issues and other factors that will allow easier acceptance of Singaporean business persons. China being the largest populated country of 1. 3 billion, with an area of 9,600,000 square kilometers, has a long history, unique culture and a wide variety of distinctive customs and traditions.
She has been attracting foreigners to invest as there are plentiful resources and labour market, which are crucial in business dealings. Besides the factors that are mentioned above, other factors play essential roles as well. Guanxi and Mianzi are the foremost factors that Chinese businessmen take into account. Other factors include preparation for Chinese business meetings, knowledge of the Chinese Lijie, such as non-verbal communication and social relationships. Also, the Chinese banquet consisting table etiquette together with drinking and toasting.
There will also be gift-giving, such as what should be considered to give and what should be avoided. Last but not least, different ways to negotiate with the Chinese for the best solution should be taken into consideration. In conclusion, having the knowledge of the Chinese etiquette will better help one to succeed in clinching more business dealings. At the same time, it also helps one to understand the culture and customs of Chinese. Therefore, this will not only do one good for business purposes, but also encourages common understanding amongst countries.
2. Introduction The People’s Republic of China, has a largest population of 1. 3 billion and a GDP of US$2393 billion. Thus, it has been eyed by many business executives due to its big market share and a large pool of labour which provides many business opportunities. In order to carry out business transactions efficiently with the Chinese, it is important for us to know what the prohibitions, customs and taboos are in China. By understanding these, we will be more prepared to conduct business with the Chinese. 2. 1 Meeting the Chinese.
To begin with, the Chinese are very particular about first impressions. They prefer to be introduced formally to people as they are reluctant to strike up conversations with people they are unfamiliar with. A proper handshake will be most appropriate upon introduction. If one is being introduced to a group, remember to shake everyone’s hands. Also, stand up throughout, when being introduced or when presenting self. Begin introductions with his/her name, followed by the company’s name and specify the country that he/she is from. 2. 2 Business Cards.
It is polite to use two hands to hold both corners when presenting business card and to position it so that it is legible to the recipient. Try to have one side of the card being translated and print the Chinese letters using gold ink as this is an auspicious colour. It will be respectful to spend a few seconds reading the card upon receiving it and helps in remembering one’s name. It is demeaning to put it directly into your pocket without glancing. If it is a sit-down meeting, place the card on the table so that one can look at it. 2. 3Conversations.
Most Chinese like to engage in conversations concerning topics which they have knowledge on, such as weather, geography, Chinese cuisine, Chinese scenery and landmarks. Topics related to politics should be avoided. Dismiss personal questions with a little humour if uncomfortable. The Chinese would often compliment the country of origin. However, accepting praise outright is not considered as good etiquette for them. Instead, one is expected to deflect compliments and pretend it is unworthy of receiving them. 2. 4 Greetings Surnames come first when addressing a Chinese.
In business situations, one will seldom concern themselves with a Chinese person’s given name. It is advisable to get straight how one should address someone at the first meeting. For business purposes, it is traditionally acceptable to call a Chinese by the surname, together with a title such as Managing Director Toh. 2. 5On the telephone Although Chinese may make arrangements through the phone, most Chinese prefers face-to-face meetings. On the telephone, the standard greeting is the word “wei”, which means “hello” or “are you still there” in Mandarin.
Chinese often do not furnish any identifying information upon answering the phone; hence it is good to verify that one has reached the organization he/she intended to dial. 3. GuanXi – Relationships Personal relationships play a vital part in the business world of Chinese. Chinese businessmen do not rush into discussions and negotiations, as they want to get familiar with their business partners before doing business. This is known as Guanxi, which means “relationships”. It is the network of relationships among various parties that cooperate together and support one another.
Before doing business, Chinese will extend hospitality to demonstrate their respect for others and appreciation of the finer things in life so as to soften their visitors. There will be small talk during the first full day, where Chinese learns about his visitor and goals. The evening during the welcome banquet, they would learn more as foreign visitors will open up during casual talks. Also, the visitors may visit the residence of their acquaintances from other organizations and bring some gifts as it is important for building and creating Guanxi.
Gifts like foreign cigarettes and quality wines are acceptable, which will be discussed more at the later part of the report. Trust is built during such situations and Chinese would then be more comfortable to work with them. Relationships are not only between companies but also personal levels. Establishing a sincere, supportive relationship based on mutual respect is a fundamental aspect of Chinese culture. In the world of business, possessing the right Guanxi is crucial for ensuring the minimization of difficulties and frustrations that are often encountered and it is also important to any successful business strategy in China.
4. Mian Zi – Face Face, also known as Mianzi, is a mark of personal pride and forms the basis of an individual’s reputation and social status. Having face means having a high status in the eyes of one’s peers, and is a mark of personal dignity. It is a prized commodity, which can be given, lost, taken away or earned. Face to a Chinese, holds more importance and encompasses a greater part of life. In order to establish all important interpersonal relationships, face must always be created and maintained at all times.
Losing face may be caused by, for example, public insult, chastisement or contradicting someone in front of another, and also, by ourselves, such as losing temper or losing your own control in public. Furthermore, rescinding an order can also be constructed as losing face. This is why Chinese leaders would rather follow the policies even if there are events that prove them that it is irrelevant. Causing someone to lose face through public humiliation or inappropriate allocation of respect to individuals within the organization can seriously damage business discussions.
On the other hand, praising someone in moderation before their colleagues is a form of ‘giving face’ and can earn respect, loyalty and aid negotiations. Nevertheless, face is so important that it is justification for spending money even if the Chinese is not very rich. Money that may be set aside for emergency use may be used for buying gifts or accessories instead because of face. 5. Lijie- Art of Politeness Being polite is a type of basic courtesy one should possess. In China, personal feelings and hint of criticism should not be dealt with publicly as it might cause public embarrassment and unpleasantness.
A glass of tea that is automatically set out in front of arriving guests is how the Chinese allows the guest to feel comfortable and appear gracious. 5. 1 Surface harmony Surface harmony is an essential skill because the world of Chinese etiquette is very insensitive to unpleasant genuine feelings as it concerns matter of “face”. To the Chinese, things are done more for show than for substance; for example, manners are tools which they use to maintain pleasantness at all times, even when it is not entirely felt. Surface harmony is disturbed when one expresses his/her disagreement.
Therefore, it is advised to remain quiet and “give face” as it might result in sabotage, subversion or revenge as the Chinese are well capable of such actions. 5. 2Intermediaries Intermediaries can be useful in communicating something unpleasant to the Chinese, and they help to ask questions, as preservation of face and surface harmony is considered highly important to Chinese. Intermediaries are highly useful in negotiations as they provide back channels for information that might prove too sensitive or risky. However, anger may be expressed directly for strategic purposes.
5. 3 Social relationships Chinese manage their social relationships by an imaginary circle that surrounds them. Relatives, friends, neighbours, classmates and co-workers are within the circle. These people have relationships with one another and hence, bear some sort of obligation. Chinese tend to go all out for them, be it putting themselves at great inconvenience or even ethically questionable circumstances. The rest of the world, whom a Chinese treats like a stranger, remains outside of the circle to whom with no particular obligation. 5. 4 Non-verbal communication.
Chinese have various non-verbal communications. Firstly, Chinese tends to have a shorter social distance compared to many western cultures, for example, a Chinese friend might stand a little close to you for comfort or breathing directly into your face when talking to you. Furthermore, if one steps backwards, his/her Chinese counterpart may advance accordingly. When dealing with a Chinese, particularly the older ones, one should not touch a member of the opposite sex you do not know extremely well as other types of physical contact can be misinterpreted.
However, it is said to be perfectly acceptable for Chinese to be physical with members of the same sex. Traditionally, Chinese are seldom demonstrative with the opposite sex in public. Therefore, foreigners should keep in mind that they are well advised to avoid more passionate forms of contact besides holding hands with a companion. During a conversation, one should not slink down in chairs as they are deemed disrespectful. Furthermore, some Chinese will avoid meeting one’s eyes or smile. This is a sign of shyness or keeping feelings to themselves. Thus should not be confused with insincerity, unfriendliness or anger.
Silence is a virtue for it represents reflection or a sign of politeness. Gestures such as “come here” by curling index finger upward, “okay” sign with thumb and forefinger forming a circle, and shrugging of shoulders showing “I don’t know” may not be understood by the Chinese. Nodding or shaking of head, thumbs-up and clapping of hands for applauding are universally accepted gestures. 5. 5 Ways to reject a Chinese Rejecting people or saying ‘no’ can result in losing face, therefore the Chinese devised a number of methods of refusing without saying ‘no’.
Ways to reject are, saying to grant the wish would be “inconvenient” as it means there are political problems associated with fulfilling a request, or it is “under consideration” or “being discussed”. This generally means that something is unlikely to happen. Another way is to blame someone else for the roadblock by finding a scapegoat. Lastly, a Chinese may tell a lie such as inventing a story to get out of the uncomfortable position in which a person feels placed. 11. References and Acknowledgements 1. De Mente Boye. (2004).
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(2006). Retrieved on June 20, 2007. http://china-europe-usa. com/level_4_data/eco/042_3. htm 9. China – Business etiquette, manners and cross cultural communication. (n. d. ). Retrieved on June 15, 2007. http://www. cyborlink. com/besite/china. htm 10. China – Business & Travel Etiquette. (n. d. ). Retrieved on June 15, 2007. http://www. crazycolour. com/os/china_02. shtml 11. Business Card Etiquette by Neil Payne. (n. d. ). Retrieved on June 15, 2007. http://www. sideroad. com/Business_Etiquette/business-card-etiquette. html.
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