Whether business people like it or not, cultural differences do have an impact in business. Many Amazon sellers do not clear about Chinese cultural differences, resulting in hundreds of business failures. So, be aware of any such issues and to take them into account while doing business in China, it is important, for the sake of business success. China is now considered a global economic giant, and the Asian country has plenty to offer global business interests. But what cultural differences should you take into consideration while doing business in this country? Let’s have a look.
Chinese Cultural Differences in Business
Broadly, there are two concepts you need to be aware of when doing business in China; the “guanxi” and the “mianzi“.
Guanxi means connections or networks, and a person who has them can get you the right connections to make your business more successful.
Broadly, the term means “relationships”, and these are very important in Chinese culture, especially if you want to get far in business. To get cooperation from various parties needed to make your business a success, you need guanxi or people who have lots of it.
Mianzi essentially means being able to save face. Respect and disrespect have a lot of significance in Chinese culture, more than in most other cultures in the world.
For instance, you should not refuse something your boss offers you, and you should avoid conflict whenever possible; particularly when out in the public. Having face, or having mianzi, means that you have dignity and prestige, and this can improve your stature as a business person in China.
Cultural differences to be Careful about When Doing Business in China
Drinking is very ingrained into the Chinese culture, even in business. Toasting to a glass of “Baijiu” is considered a sign of good fortune and all business deals have this aspect incorporated into them. At least one toast has to be made while making a business deal in China.
Generally, you should avoid giving gifts as it is illegal under the official business policy. Gift giving amounts to bribery, and it is therefore illegal. So, your gift might be declined.
Arranging a Business Dinner in China
When arranging business dinner, you may want to take advantage of your foreigner status and seek out your favorite western restaurant. But in order to think about the Chinese you do business with, you need to eat Chinese food when you are in Rome. Besides, when attending a business dinner in China, you should dress appropriately, and note that the sitting arrangement can depend on social status, so, wait for directions on where to sit.
You should also not start eating before your hosts, as this may come off as disrespect to them. Also, when you order alcohol to go with the meal, order the light kind as there might be a lot of toasts involved. In China, after each toast, you have to down the entire glass of what you are holding, and the hosts will gladly refill it for you as soon as you place it on the table. But you can say no to cigarettes.
Sometimes, business matters may arise during the course of the meal, and at other times, they might not. Both of these scenarios are normal. Also remember that you will foot the bill if you made the dinner invitation, and they will do the same if they arranged the meeting. Don’t expect any splitting of bills.
The Timing of Business Meetings
Business meetings in China often occur during the holidays. Generally, appointments have to accompany all business meetings, and punctuality is very important.
The Chinese business culture is unlike anything you have ever experienced. So, make sure you know how to navigate this complex culture for fruitful business interactions.