In recent blog posts by The Living Room I read about alternative ways of traveling by Mari Carmen Ampiée Vigil or why Catalina Álvarez González went from Málaga to China to came back home again after 4 years abroad. Understanding what the culture in The Living Room is like by further reading Tara Stephenson’s post, I felt the urge to contribute to the international community of The Living Room and share my experience on what office etiquette is like in China.
As you travel to China for an international career opportunity or an internship, you probably find yourself curious about the experiences that await you.
The different foods, different housing arrangements, different language – basically, you are just preparing to experience an entirely different culture overall.
Well, of course, within that culture variation comes office etiquette. Understanding it is vital to your success in China. So, keep reading to see a little bit about the office etiquette to ensure you come off as knowledgeable and well-versed in the overall culture:
What do they value?
- People who show respect for their elders and higher rankings.
- People who demonstrate patience.
- People who are polite.
- People who dress and act modestly.
- People who save and give face. This common Chinese term just means that you don’t make people feel dumb (saving face) and you give compliments and praise when deserved (giving face).
They rely on personal relationships.
Personal relationships are an aspect of business that China relies heavily upon. In China, good personal relationships equate to business success. Therefore, it is vital that you establish and maintain good, quality relationships with coworkers, key business contacts, and relevant government officials.
But, while establishing and nurturing these relationships, beware of scams that you might encounter. If someone insists that you decide on a contract quickly or that you pay notary fees, etc., it could be a sign that it is a potential scam.
They appreciate punctuality.
In China, you are expected to show up to the appropriate meetings and to do so on time. It is best practice to attempt to arrive slightly early to ensure you are never late, as it is looked down upon.
During the meeting, ensure you know who is the boss, showing them utmost respect and giving them your undivided attention.
It is proper to follow the leader.
When dining out with professional contacts, as is a common business practice in China, the seats and food are determined by the host. Therefore, you simply follow the leader rather than making your own decisions.
Follow the cues from your host on when to begin eating. If for some reason you are opposed to a specific food, keep in mind, it is acceptable to refuse something. However, it is more polite to accept and at least sample some of everything.
Most of these business practices can be seen across the globe, so, most of them you should already have implemented regardless of where you are. However, some practices, such as allowing the host to choose your seat and your food might not be standard for you.
Before engaging yourself in any business scenario, ensure you properly understand the culture you are engaging in to avoid making an improper move and possibly offending someone.
David Smith is a blogger and world traveler, with experience in China’s manufacturing industry, as well as social media marketing in his hometown of Los Angeles, California. When not staring into a computer screen, David is an avid badminton player and photographer of natural landscapes.
This blog post is sponsored by Internships China specialised in providing internships in China and Chinese Study Abroad Programs to foreigners worldwide. With a strong business network of professional partners in Beijing and Shanghai Internships China place university students, graduates and young professionals at an internship position of their choice in China; the world’s fastest growing economic hub.