More American-based companies than ever are doing business in China, or at least learning from their Eastern counterparts. This trend doesn’t only apply to large businesses, but smaller ones too. This movement is fueled by the fact that China is more technology advanced than it ever has been, and is anxious to do business.
Today, its tech-hubs are creating opportunities for foreign investors and entrepreneurs alike. Whether you’re thinking about doing business in China, or just opening up a new channel of profitability for your business here in America, you can still learn a lot from the fascinating Chinese business culture.
Use Chinese Business Etiquette When Communicating
In America, pointing your finger and using wide hand gestures while speaking is largely accepted as a way of passionately getting a point across. To the Chinese, however, it’s considered a distraction. Instead, if you must refer to a reference point in the room or on the screen, open the palm of your hand and refrain from pointing.
Be On Time or Early to Meetings
Always set up an appointment first when you want to meet with a Chinese official or company employee. Never arrive unannounced. After you’ve confirmed the meeting time and place, be sure to allow enough time for traffic. It’s best to be on time as opposed to being late if you want to make a good impression. If something does happen that is out of your control, sincerely apologize and give the reason for your tardiness. This aspect of Chinese etiquette suits our Western culture as well, but it’s not as deeply rooted in the West as it is in the East.
Practice Patience – It’s Virtuous in China
A fast-pace work ethic prevails in the Western world, but in China, it’s the opposite. Chinese culture takes pride in listening, planning, and patience. To rush a decision is very uncomfortable for the Chinese. A rushed work pace can lead to many mistakes, so take note from the Chinese and begin to slow down. The change may yield more effective, high-quality results.
Improve Boss-Employee Relationships
Friendships or relationships are called “guanxi” (GWAN-she) in Chinese. Guanxi fosters mutual respect between bosses and employees. This practice is much more common in China than it is in America. A cultivation of fostering boss-employee relationships on a healthy level beyond work hours is the true meaning of guanxi.
In America, we practice guanxi, although typically, not often enough. Consider the annual sales conference or occasional employee birthday dinner, two perfect examples. To improve guanxi, plan to hold these types of events and similar ones like these more frequently. As a long-term benefit, it could improve productivity and happiness in the workplace.
Right now, many companies are discovering that China is a great place to do business. Learning from the East is a brilliant way to begin expanding your company’s geographical footprint. Those Western organizations that appreciate and accept Chinese cultural differences are poised for success in that area of the world.
Even if you decide not to add China to your list of business prospect territories, you can still learn so much from its culture. In addition, you can apply what you’ve learned to your business to step ahead of the competition. The benefits of your physical or mental journey could bring your business to the next level of cultural understanding and prosperity. Then the Chinese saying, “Our grandchildren will do business with your grandchildren,” will become, “Our grandchildren are doing business with your grandchildren today and it will continue tomorrow.”