Doing business in China is not an easy task and it is important to know the rules which form an invisible base for the business.
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Communicate with Chinese in Business
A handshake is not only used by western people, but also by most everyone. When greeting, a slight salvation often accompanies the handshake, but nobody cranes like the Japanese. Different from a strong handshake in the West, Chinese adopts a soft handshake. Besides shaking hands, please avoid any other physical contact with someone before you know it well, especially in the south of China. Packing on the back is not a decent way to say hello to your Chinese business partner.
The Chinese will often avoid direct and straight eye contact during conversations, especially when they talk to people of the opposite gender or to foreigners. Traditionally, it was considered rude and aggressive to look directly in the eyes when speaking, and as a sign of respect, the Chinese sometimes let down their eyes when they meet someone.
Business cards are regularly exchanged at the first meeting. Make sure that your card has been translated into Chinese. A card is given and received with both hands, say aloud the name you read on, and do not store directly, wait for the end of the discussion.
Tradition of respect
Six, eight and nine are considered as lucky numbers by Chinese businessmen, especially middle or old age who are super superstitious, because of their lucky- homophones have good meanings. Six means that everything will go well for you. Eight means fortune approaching. Nine, jiu, means eternal, especially in friendship and marriage. Four and seven are unlucky numbers, the first involves death and the second means disappeared. Be careful also that the same number can have different meanings in different regions thanks to the totally different dialects.
Offering gifts in China was an important part of the culture. This is no longer the case today, it is possible that a gift may be refused, do not get it wrong, say that you understand and take it back. Small gifts of low value will be less seen as a bribe but always remember to offer them discreetly. In China, a gift is never opened in front of the giver.
The symbolism of the colors is very important in China. Red represents luck and used as an official color for celebrations. Yellow is associated with prosperity and power. In contrast to Western culture, white means death.
In Chinese cooking, instead of serving dishes individually as in the West, where each has its own portion of food on a unique plate, Chinese share the food. Everyone sitting around the table takes food in different dishes on the table. Never erect your chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice, it refers to incense sticks placed vertically in the sanctuary of the dead.
To communicate well with the Chinese, it is best to speak their language, Mandarin. Maybe you have read that English is compulsory for all the Chinese students, but I swear the English most students learned doesn’t help their oral English obviously. So speaking Chinese is required. For example, more and more French companies require from their employees to take Chinese lessons before going to do business in China, in order to negotiate with their Chinese partners.