5 Must Know Chinese Business Etiquettes
It is known that as Globalisation evolves, the need for more people to do business transactions with the Chinese corporations is high. Also, with Singapore’s rising economy, a lot of Singaporeans will want to learn the chinese language to advance their business vocabulary. In business dealings, language is very vital in bridging the gap in an intercontinental relationship. However, the cultural etiquette and expectations behind the language are far more important.
To keep yourself abreast of Chinese social etiquette and business culture, you must learn a thing or two from the Chinese language which will assist you in avoiding potential misunderstandings and miscommunication. When it comes to Chinese business culture, there is only one golden rule; when you meet a Chinese man, think positive and make them feel at home.
Smiling and nodding of the head are common ways of greeting people. In an official business setting, you are going to be offered a handshake. Ensure that it is initiated by your Chinese business partner. Additionally, you can use these phrases to start a conversation or reply to them.
- “你好” (nǐ hǎo – which means hi or hello)
- “很高兴认识你” (hěn gāoxìng rènshí nǐ – which means nice to meet you),
- “謝謝你見到我” (xièxiè nǐ jiàn dào wǒ – meaning thank you for meeting me.)
- “我一直期待著見到你” (Wǒ yīzhí qídàizhuó jiàn dào nǐ – I’ve been looking forward to meeting with you)
You can use these expressions to impress your Chinese partners. Chinese people love it when you speak to them in their language, and to be on a safer side, ensure that you know the meaning of the words and use them in the right situations.
When it comes to addressing Chinese people, the majority of them prefer to be to be addressed by their titles first before their surname. For instance, some of their honorifics are;
- 王经理 (Wáng jīnglǐ; Manager Wang),
- 张教授 (Zhāng jiàoshòu; Prof. Zhang).
If you’re not so sure about the titles, you can utilise
- 先生 (xiānshēng; Sir, Mr.)
- 小姐 (xiǎojiě; miss)
- 夫人 (nǚshì; madam) as an alternative.
The exchange of business cards is another vital part of business introductions. A business card should be treated with care because it is seen as an extension of a person. The polite way to accept it is with both hands, once you do, take a good look at it with both hands since it usually contains the title and rank of your counterpart.
Chinese people, much like the English speaking people around the world, often like to start up conversations with small talk to break the ice. Questions like “你吃了吗?” (Nǐ chīle ma? Have you eaten?) or “你去哪儿了？” (Nǐ qù nǎr le? Where’ve you been?) are commonly used as ice-breaking remarks in Chinese culture. Furthermore, you don’t have to give much specifics while replying to these questions. The above questions are just like saying ‘how are you’ in English-based culture.
DOs: while communicating with your Chinese counterparts, travel, climate, food, and scenery are all standard safe topics one can use while talking with Chinese people. Always have something positive to say about China that will make your business partner happy.
DON’Ts: Ensure that you avoid political discussions, especially the ones related to Tibet, human rights and Taiwan.
In conclusion, Chinese businesses in Singapore, their personnel’s are understanding and have huge respect for cultural differences. They are not expecting you, a foreigner to be very much familiarised with their customs and traditions. However, by understanding Chinese culture and their business etiquette, you will be in the best position to impress your Chinese counterparts, clients or colleagues towards building a strong working relationship with smooth and clear communication.