China Business Etiquette

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Chinese Business Etiquette
Having been born to Chinese parents and having a relatively strong grasp of the Chinese language, my expectations were that I would easily integrate into its business culture during my first business trip there. However I quickly discovered that my understanding of its business etiquette was severely limited when the client visited rejected all of our proposals and signed with a local bank. After consulting with a local friend, the realization that mianzi (face) was not emphasized enough. The understanding of mianzi is fundamental to conducting business in China. Mianzi is the ability to avoid any type of embarrassment for the counterpart and show respect through the performance of multiple unwritten rules. None of these business etiquettes are more rigorously respected than at the dinner table, where most of business is discussed in China. Almost all SME companies conduct and finalize part of their deals during meals. This is due to the importance of building guanxi, personal relationships with other businesses or government officials, in China. Mianzi business etiquette is observed preceding the meal itself. One must cordially invite the other well in advance with a relatively luxurious place in mind. Families should be invited in order to show respect for the whole family but is not often required to attend. Unlike the western world, where more quite and elegant atmospheres are preferred, Chinese business meals are often done in private rooms within a large noisy restaurant. The grandeur of the restaurant and the amount of clientele tells the opposite party of the quality of the location while the private room offers exclusivity. Also, since most restaurants charge an elevated minimum expenditure for usage of the private room, the opposite party sees one’s commitment in achieving a deal. Seating at the table is extremely important in Chinese culture. In often-used round tables, the host always seats across...
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