Doing business with the Chinese, Part I

Wenn Ihre Firma im internationalen Geschäft tätig ist, gehört sicherlich auch der Umgang mit ausländischen Gästen zu Ihren Aufgaben. Mehr denn je wächst im internationalen Handel die Bedeutung Chinas und somit auch die Notwenidgkeit gewisse Stil- und Etiketteregeln im Umgang mit chinesischen Besuchern zu kennen.

Der Spezial-Fernkurs für Sekretärinnen und Assistentinnen Let’s talk Business English bereitet Sie hier optimal vor.

Lesen Sie Teil II des Tipps heute so gegen 14:00 Uhr.

Special focus – Cross-cultural competence

Test yourself: Do you think these statements about Chinese business etiquette are true or false?

true false
Make sure you are never late for an appointment with Chinese businesspeople.   
Titles are not used in Chinese business meetings.   
Many Chinese people give themselves English names.   
If you don't agree with something in a discussion, you should say "no" immediately.   
If a Chinese businessperson says "No big problem", there are still some problems.   
In small talk, it's common to ask someone their age.   
You should never ask Chinese business associates how long they have
been in their jobs. 

1 – true. You should always be punctual when doing business with the Chinese. Being late is a serious insult.
2 – false. If businesspeople have a title (Dr, Director, President) they expect to be called by it. If a person does not have a professional title, use 'Mr' or 'Madam' plus the last name.
3 – true. Many Chinese choose an English first name for themselves to make it easier for Westerners to address them. Some choose rather odd and rare names like Horace or Mildred in their attempt to be different from others.
4. false. – In business, direct
"no" answers are considered impolite. Instead of saying "no", many Chinese say "perhaps", "I'll think it over" or "We'll see about that later".
5. true. – Chinese people very often smile and politely say
"There's no big problem", or "Nothing to worry about" when in fact there is a problem.
6. true. – You should expect personal questions about your age and marital status. If you don't want to answer, remain polite and give an unspecific answer.
7. false. – This is a normal friendly question.


5 tips for writing to Chinese Business associates

Ein altes chinesisches Sprichwort sagt sinngemäß: "Wer zwanzig Worte gebraucht, wo zehn ausreichen, ist auch zu anderen Untaten fähig." Sie sollten sich diese Weisheit unbedingt merken, wenn Sie mit China Geschäfte machen, denn zu viele Worte können verwirrend sein.

In principle, writing to Chinese business associates is not much different from writing to other nationalities. The main thing to remember is the KISS principle - Keep It Short and Simple.

But you can make life a little easier for your business counterparts by observing some of the traditions of Chinese business writing. These five tips will help you write perfect letters and emails to mainland China.

  1. Make sure there is a fax number in your letterhead. Faxing is going out of fashion in many European and American companies, but it is still an important part of doing business in China.
  2. Put a document number on the right side of the page, below the letterhead. This number can be made up of a combination of the year, a consecutive number and your initials. The purpose of this number is to identify the letter, to give it a place in the hierarchy of all the letters
    written by your company. This is common practice in China and will be appreciated by your business associates.
  3. Type the name of the organisation or company, but not the address, followed by the name and title of the individual you are writing to on the left side of the paper, below the document number. You put the full  address on the envelope. Remember that Chinese names are written with the family name first and then the given name. But if the person you are writing to has already written his or her name with the given name first, follow this practice.
  4. Write the letter as usual with the salutation ("Dear ...") followed by the body of the letter. Make sure you have an introductory paragraph, one or more main paragraphs, and a polite closing paragraph.
  5. Type your name and the date on the right side of the page without a complimentary close. Type the date exactly under the sender´s name in the format year-monthday (2008-05-19).


These are just some of the things you will need to know when you meet Chinese business associates

When you greet Chinese visitors, smile and say "I'm ........ (your full name). It's nice to meet you. I hope you had a pleasant journey." Do not offer your hand, but wait until the Chinese visitor offers his or hers.

In China, people usually greet each other by saying "Are you hungry?" So say, "Can I get you something to eat or drink?" This is only a polite phrase, so the answer will probably be "no".

Fit in Business English - The easy way: Let's talk Business English - Der Spezial-Fernkurs für Sekretärinnen und Assistentinnen

On the whole, the Chinese rarely show irritation with the questioner, no matter how impolite the questions are. This means you might feel that you are getting on very well with the person, when in fact they don't like your questions. The Chinese don't like to "lose face". Losing face has negative implications in many Asian cultures. So when you make small talk, make sure it is appropriate.

Good subjects are the Chinese landscape. You can ask if there are a lot of mountains, how big the rivers are, if there are many forests and so on. For example you can say "China must be a very beautiful country. Are there really so many big rivers?" General comments or inquiries about the health of your associate's family are also good, for instance "I hope all in your family are well".

Lesen Sie Teil II des Tipps heute gegen 14:00 Uhr.