Corporate travellers should research the business customs of their destinations in order to avoid potential embarrassment or offence, and ensure that communication is as effective as possible. Here are 5 business customs tips you should aware of if you ever have to work in China, one of the hottest corporate travel destinations in today’s global economy.
- Initial greetings are formal, with the oldest person greeted first. Shake hands and look towards the ground. Address people by their honorific title and surname until advised otherwise; present your business card in both hands and examine their business card before putting it away
- During meetings, be particularly wary of your body language. The Chinese interpret how you feel by your facial expressions and posture. For example, if you frown when concentrating, try not to do this as your Chinese clients will interpret this as a sign of disagreement
- When dining, always try everything offered to you and place your chopsticks on the resting tray after every few bites or when drinking or speaking. Never eat the last piece on a serving tray
- If you’re giving gifts, do not give knives or similar utensils as they indicate a severing of relationships. Flowers, clocks and handkerchiefs are associated with funerals. Do not wrap gifts in blue, white or black paper as these colours are associated with death. Four is unlucky so do not give four of anything, eight is the luckiest number. Always present gifts with two hands. Gifts are not opened when received
- For meetings, wear conservative business attire and always arrive on time or earlier as arriving late is considered an insult. Wait to be escorted to your designated seat. Behave in a formal manner and concentrate on building relationships before making the deal. The Chinese prefer face-to-face meetings but don’t ever discuss business matters during meals or at social events.
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