Chinese business professionals project local cultural practices in their business transactions. (Photo : Getty Images)
China is one of the top economies in the world, and other countries have taken note. The U.S., in particular, has already forged investment partnerships with a wide range of Chinese companies across different sectors.
To nail a business partnership with a Chinese business professional, international protocol expert and cross-cultural consultant Sharon Schweitzer, who wrote “Access to Asia,” gave the Huffington Post five culture tips to live by.
The concept of face
Even though one doesn’t always agree with his colleagues or his company policies, Schweitzer advises businessmen to “maintain their own face and that of their colleagues.” In the negotiation table, this reflects Chinese business professionals avoiding outright rejection of proposals.
“Pay close attention to phrases such as ‘I don’t know if it is possible,’ ‘We will need to discuss,’ and ‘that may be difficult,’” Schweitzer wrote.
Diplomacy is key
When negotiating with Chinese professionals, it’s important to keep one’s cool and remain respectful.
“Becoming emotional or overzealous will detail your efforts, and decrease your standing, so maintain composure at all times,” Schweitzer told the Huffington Post. Since the Chinese honor the concept of saving face, diplomacy is the best way to go.
Westerns prefer “low-context” communication, directly stating their views in business. Chinese professionals, however, operate in the “high-context” sphere of communication. Looking out for nuances such as raised eyebrows or prolonged silences will help in the negotiation process.
Humility above all
Arrogance is looked down upon in Chinese culture. Schweitzer advises businessmen in the higher levels of management to include their official title and role only on the business card.
“Avoid going to great lengths to establish your authority and importance. Focus instead on fostering relationships based on common interests and goodwill.”
Before negotiating with Chinese colleagues, it’s imperative to have a strategy in advance, as meetings can stretch for long periods of time. Setting goals before the meeting, and upon conclusion, asking for a Memorandum of Understanding, helps both sides of the negotiating parties, Schweitzer told the Huffington Post.