Business is about culture. It is extremely important to learn and understand the culture, logic and thinking of your business partners especially when you are talking about international business.
Social life in China
1. Q: What are taboos in Chinese society: subjects that I should not talk about?
A: We talk about everything except sex, we talk age, income, politics, religion, etc.
2. Q: Are there any expressions that I must avoid while speaking to a Chinese person?
A: I can’t think of any specific expression you need to avoid, generally, be polite, be nice, don’t be rude.
3. Q: Is it acceptable to talk freely about your private life?
A: Yes, it is acceptable to talk about private life, especially with families, friends and people we know. But we don’t talk private life with strangers. We feel more comfortable to talk about the privacy with someone you know and close to you.
By asking some general private questions people try to know each other and get closer, for example ” how old are you”, “where are you from”, “what do you do by occupation”, so on and so forth. We normally will answer those questions if the people who ask are not so annoying. So in the other points, don’t feel be offended if your Chinese friend asks about your privacy. It is just like he/she is trying to find a topic and interested in knowing you more in person.
4. Q: If you want to make friends, do you consider any difference between men and women?
A: Not really.
5. Q: What is the distance that you must respect while talking to a Chinese person? And in this case, are there any differences between men and women?
A: Depends on the relationship between the speakers, more intimate relation, closer. You sit side by side with friend, but don’t want a stranger to sit side by side with you. Also you will leave some space if you are talking with your boss.
Generally the distance between men and women depends on the relationship between them. The differences is China is a conservative country, so you need to leave a bit more space if you are talking to a person in opposite gender. Don’t kiss. Wait the female to reach hand first when shake hands. People here don’t touch each other much.
6. Q: Do you keep eye contact while talking with someone older than you?
7. Q: Do you consider interrupting someone while speaking impolite or it doesn’t really matter?
A: Very impolite.
8. Q: How can I express politely my agreement or refusal?
A: The thing is to let people know you agree or refuse without making them unhappy or misguide them. In daily life, better be clear; in business, better be clear and also diplomatic.
9. Q: Does the Chinese society respect a certain hierarchy or degree of formality?
10. Q: Do I have the right to express my feelings or should I hide them instead?
A: Do express yourself. The key is expressing your feeling without make others unhappy or misguide them.
11. Q: When I am eating something, do I have to invite my friends to share it with me?
A: If we eat something alone with a people we know around, we think it is very impolite not inviting. The idea here is we treat others as well as what we treat ourselves.
12. Q: What kind of gifts can you offer a Chinese person to make them happy?
A: Depends what they like and what the occasion is. Normally we buy cosmetics/novelties/something else they like to women, electronics/wine/something they like to men.
Professional life in China
1. Q: At work, how do you say hello?
A: Nothing special. Good morning/good afternoon/how are you? Etc. Chinese will ask, “Have you eaten lunch/supper yet” etc. as a greeting, just like you guys talk weather to start a conversation.
2. Q: Are there any differences between men and women?
A: not really.
3. Q: Do you have any dress-code?
A: Dress professionally.
4. Q: Describe manners at the table?
A: Vary. China is big. The people in the north drink a lot, the people in south not. The host normally will invite the guests to eat first when every dish is served.
5. Q: What kind of gifts can you offer when a Chinese person invites you to dinner?
A: Check what they like beforehand. For example, if they drink, it would be great if you bring a French wine.
6. Q: At work, do you consider your partner as a friend?
A: Depends. Some yes, some no.
7. Q: Do you express feelings freely?
A: In business, better politely and diplomatic.
8. Q: What is the distance that you must respect while speaking with your co-worker?
A: Closer with co-worker, a bit more space with people you respect.
9. Q: At what hour do you start work?
A: At 8, 8:30 or 9 depends on region.
10. Q: How long does the lunch break last?
A: 1 to 2 hours depends on companies.
11. Q: Do you drink alcohol during the lunch?
A: No, except you are accompanying a client.
12. Q: Is there any behavior that I should not have when I visit China?
A: Nothing special. Don’t “streaking”, don’t break the laws, be nice.