When conducting business anywhere in the world, it is important to make a good first impression by avoiding social faux pas and understanding the surrounding culture. This is certainly true in China as well. By making a good first impression there, business opportunities across China should open up even more.
Many people are of the belief that China will soon become the world’s new super power so it is no surprise that everyone wants to invest in China or run a business there. With its booming economy, emerging markets with expected projected growth, and the currency doing so well, it is no wonder that investors are looking towards this massive country for new opportunities.
China is a country in which the culture is a high-context culture. Cultural context is the pattern of physical cues, environmental stimuli, and implicit understanding that conveys meaning between members of the same culture. This means that in their culture, there is open access, detail is not required, information is shared, and subjective, business and social relationships overlap. Positions and status is valued, and meetings can be held on short notice.This is very important to know if you want to do business in China and create a good first impression, because success here is based a lot on first impressions. Understanding their culture will help you along your way.
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You have to learn the basics of business etiquette and what you can expect in a country like so you can give a better first impression. Learning about inter-cultural communication is crucial for this. Intercultural communication is the process of sending and receiving messages between people whose cultural background leads them to interpret verbal and nonverbal signs differently.
When conducting business, if you are not careful enough, you may fall prey to things like ethnocentrism and stereotyping. Ethnocentrism is the tendency to judge all other groups according to the standards, behaviors, and customs of one’s own group. Stereotyping is assigning generalized attributes to an individual on the basis of membership in a particular group. To avoid ethnocentrism and stereotyping, you must avoid judgments, avoid assumptions and acknowledge distinctions. Try to believe in the concept of cultural pluralism and accept different cultures like the Chinese culture on their own terms.
In order to improve your inter-cultural communication skills, you can try following some of these tips:
Study other cultures
Study other languages and always speak clearly
Respect preferences for communication style. Using interpreters, translators, and translation software. This will help deal with the language barrier in case you are not well versed in Chinese.
Understand non-verbal signals and gestures. For example, a very firm handshake is not preferred in China because in their eyes, it makes you come across as an aggressive and domineering person instead of appearing as confident and determined. Similarly, you are not advised to maintain eye contact for too long. Whereas in the Western culture, it may be a way to show you are trust worthy, in China it could be interpreted as being disrespectful.
You should also get used to less personal space because in China people live and deal in close proximity to one another.