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10 tips for you to prepare a meeting with your Chinese business counterparts

· China Trends

Greetings

 

Handshakes are the most common way to greet your Chinese partners in business scenarios. Speaking a couple of Chinese words at the start of conversations is a good way to show your respect and may potentially make your relationships closer. Several greeting phrases are recommended. For example, in Chinese culture, it shows your compassion by saying ‘Have you eaten?’ or ‘Where have you been?’. This is equivalent to ‘How are you?’ or ‘How is it going?’ in English. Starting with some pleasantries is a polite way in both informal and formal situations as the first step.

 

Small Talk

 

Talking about your positive impressions about China as a tourist is always one of the most welcomed topics to discuss with your Chinese counterparts. Travelling experience can easily entice people to continue the conversations and exchange their own experiences. Apart from this, you can get to know that person easily from the way he/she expressed feelings towards a place or preferences. Other topics like Chinese teas, scenery, Chinese poems are also welcomed before a business meeting starts.

 

Avoid scheduling a meeting from 12 - 2 pm

 

In many Chinese companies, workers usually take a break from 12 to 2 pm. During this period, most work will be stopped and workers can take a nap in their office. If you schedule a meeting in this time slot, probably no one will be ready. As one of the Chinese working habits, recharging energy for an efficient afternoon-work is very important. Don’t forget to take this into account when you schedule a meeting with Chinese counterparts.

 

Lucky numbers matter!

 

8 and 6 represent blessings! The pronunciation of 8 in Chinese sounds similar to ‘Fā’ 发, which represents ‘getting rich and richer’; ‘6’ ‘六 Liù’ in Chinese can be interpreted as ’running smoothly’. Including these numbers express a hope of ‘everything to be conducted smoothly’. Chinese businessmen love to have 8,888 or 168 in their car plates, phone numbers or others number-related items. Having some lucky numbers in a business deal may increase the confidence of achieving success. If you schedule a meeting on 8th, August, or set a price at £888, it shows that you tend to produce good results for the collaboration or transactions.

 

The order to enter the room

 

Have you noticed the order of entering a room in a meeting in China? Here is the scenario: the most senior person of a group is always the first one to enter the room, this also helps him to introduce the rest of his/her group. This is a sign of hierarchy in Chinese working environment. Showing your respect to the seniority is valued by your Chinese counterparts.

 

Restaurants! The ‘best’ place for business.

 

If you are doing business in China, restaurants are the most common place to go and have a meeting. Business meals can be either lunches or dinners, formal ones usually will be conducted in private rooms of well-established restaurants. Seating arrangements are also important to the business meal, certain rules are supposed to be followed to show respect to the host and the seniority of the guest's matter.

 

High-context culture VS Low-context culture

 

Chinese business environment is categorised as ‘high-context’, which indicates that literal interpretation is not enough and taking the context into account is key to understanding the true meanings. For example, directly saying ‘no’ is not common, instead, ‘I’ll consider it’, ‘maybe’, etc., are mostly used to postpone the decision-making or indirectly reject the offer. This shows politeness but may not be easily understood by westerners with ‘low-context’ communications (direct communications)

 

 

‘Guanxi’

 

‘Guanxi’ means a lot in Chinese businesses, in which transactions and offers are established or secured by strong recommendations from family members, friends and other associations. In other words, your personal relationships are valued when you do businesses in China. Building up positive relationships with your business partners not only help with your current businesses but also brings future opportunities to your businesses. Grabbing a drink or going Karaoke with your Chinese partners are good ways to build up your personal relationships!

 

To give a gift? Watch out!

 

Clocks, shoes, knives should be avoided! ‘Clocks’(钟 Zhōng)in Chinese sound like ‘death’ (终 Zhōng, 'the end') implying the end of one's life, which should never be considered as a gift for Chinese. Be careful about the choices. If you are not sure, consult your Chinese friends in advance

 

An interpreter who understand Chinese culture is the best!

 

Bringing your own Chinese interpreter to the business meeting is a good decision! An interpreter can help you to convey your message, interpreter the true meanings based on the context and help you to avoid ‘cultural traps’. Cross-cultural meetings and communications vary depending on the situations and the counterparts. Having some professionals on your side can offer you valuable advice and smooth out the conversations. If you are not confident enough to do it all on yourself, find an expert, and they can always save your time and money.

Greetings

Handshakes are the most common way to greet your Chinese partners in business scenarios. Speaking a couple of Chinese words at the start of conversations is a good way to show your respect and may potentially make your relationships closer. Several greeting phrases are recommended. For example, in Chinese culture, it shows your compassion by saying ‘Have you eaten?’ or ‘Where have you been?’. This is equivalent to ‘How are you?’ or ‘How is it going?’ in English. Starting with some pleasantries is a polite way in both informal and formal situations as the first step.

Small Talk

Talking about your positive impressions about China as a tourist is always one of the most welcomed topics to discuss with your Chinese counterparts. Travelling experience can easily entice people to continue the conversations and exchange their own experiences. Apart from this, you can get to know that person easily from the way he/she expressed feelings towards a place or preferences. Other topics like Chinese teas, scenery, Chinese poems are also welcomed before a business meeting starts.

Avoid scheduling a meeting from 12 - 2 pm

In many Chinese companies, workers usually take a break from 12 to 2 pm. During this period, most work will be stopped and workers can take a nap in their office. If you schedule a meeting in this time slot, probably no one will be ready. As one of the Chinese working habits, recharging energy for an efficient afternoon-work is very important. Don’t forget to take this into account when you schedule a meeting with Chinese counterparts.

Lucky numbers matter!

8 and 6 represent blessings! The pronunciation of 8 in Chinese sounds similar to ‘Fā’ 发, which represents ‘getting rich and richer’; ‘6’ ‘六 Liù’ in Chinese can be interpreted as ’running smoothly’. Including these numbers express a hope of ‘everything to be conducted smoothly’. Chinese businessmen love to have 8,888 or 168 in their car plates, phone numbers or others number-related items. Having some lucky numbers in a business deal may increase the confidence of achieving success. If you schedule a meeting on 8th, August, or set a price at £888, it shows that you tend to produce good results for the collaboration or transactions.

The order to enter the room

Have you noticed the order of entering a room in a meeting in China? Here is the scenario: the most senior person of a group is always the first one to enter the room, this also helps him to introduce the rest of his/her group. This is a sign of hierarchy in Chinese working environment. Showing your respect to the seniority is valued by your Chinese counterparts.

Restaurants! The ‘best’ place for business.

If you are doing business in China, restaurants are the most common place to go and have a meeting. Business meals can be either lunches or dinners, formal ones usually will be conducted in private rooms of well-established restaurants. Seating arrangements are also important to the business meal, certain rules are supposed to be followed to show respect to the host and the seniority of the guest's matter.

High-context culture VS Low-context culture

Chinese business environment is categorised as ‘high-context’, which indicates that literal interpretation is not enough and taking the context into account is key to understanding the true meanings. For example, directly saying ‘no’ is not common, instead, ‘I’ll consider it’, ‘maybe’, etc., are mostly used to postpone the decision-making or indirectly reject the offer. This shows politeness but may not be easily understood by westerners with ‘low-context’ communications (direct communications)

‘Guanxi’

‘Guanxi’ means a lot in Chinese businesses, in which transactions and offers are established or secured by strong recommendations from family members, friends and other associations. In other words, your personal relationships are valued when you do businesses in China. Building up positive relationships with your business partners not only help with your current businesses but also brings future opportunities to your businesses. Grabbing a drink or going Karaoke with your Chinese partners are good ways to build up your personal relationships!

To give a gift? Watch out!

Clocks, shoes, knives should be avoided! ‘Clocks’(钟 Zhōng)in Chinese sound like ‘death’ (终 Zhōng, 'the end') implying the end of one's life, which should never be considered as a gift for Chinese. Be careful about the choices. If you are not sure, consult your Chinese friends in advance

An interpreter who understand Chinese culture is the best!

Bringing your own Chinese interpreter to the business meeting is a good decision! An interpreter can help you to convey your message, interpreter the true meanings based on the context and help you to avoid ‘cultural traps’. Cross-cultural meetings and communications vary depending on the situations and the counterparts. Having some professionals on your side can offer you valuable advice and smooth out the conversations. If you are not confident enough to do it all on yourself, find an expert, and they can always save your time and money.

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