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stories you'll find in the most current issue.
When "Yes" means "No": Comprehending Chinese Business Etiquette
By Becky Kalajian
Doing business always involves meeting and greeting people. Meetings start with the shaking of hands and a slight nod of the head. Do not be overly vigorous when shaking hands, as the Chinese will interpret this as aggressive.
Business cards are exchanged on an initial meeting. Make sure one side of the card has been translated and print the Chinese letters using gold ink, as this is an auspicious color. When receiving a card, place it in a case rather than in a wallet or pocket. Offer and receive cards with two hands.
Don’t take a “yes” literally to mean affirmative. Chinese people will say “yes” to show that they’re paying attention or that they understand, not that there is agreement to your terms or what is being said.
Establish an intermediary to be your reference, interpreter and guide through the bureaucracy, legal system and local business networks.
Giving gifts does not carry any negative connotations when doing business.
Punctuality is vital. Arriving late is seen as an insult. Meetings should begin with brief small talk. Keep it positive and avoid anything political.
Send an agenda before any meeting. This will allow you to have some control of the flow of the meeting. The Chinese approach meetings differently, so rather than beginning with minor or side issues and working your way up to the core issue, reverse this.
For Chinese businesspeople, the primary aim is concessions. You must be willing to show compromise and ensure their negotiators feel they have gained major concessions.
Do your homework before meeting. The other side plans meticulously and will know your business and possibly you inside out.
Be patient and never show anger or frustration. Practice your best poker face before negotiations. Once they see you are uncomfortable they will exploit the weakness and decisions will take a long time.