Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chinese Business Customs And Practices Overview

One of the most common questions I am asked is "How are the Chinese business customs and practices different than in the West?"

The answer is that there are many ways, and if we don't work together to try and understand each other it may make it harder to work together.

According to a survey of 72 Prudential Insurance personnel managers working overseas, 35% said culture adaptability, patience, flexibility and tolerance for other's blefs was required for overseas success.  This was chosen as 60% more important than technical and management skills.

Here is a little story that illustrates how two people can easily misunderstand each other.

A man see's a sign in a restaurant window that says "Special Today - Rabbit Stew".  The man likes rabbit stew so he goes in and orders a bowl.  After tasting the stew, he calls the waiter over and asks if there is any horse meat in the stew.  The waiter responds it is 50/50 horse and rabbit.  This customer has experience in cross cultural misunderstanding so he asks for more information about what that means.  The waiter says it means one horse to one rabbit.

These type of misunderstandings are common among different cultures.

There are many differences between the Chinese and Westerns, such as when does "Yes" mean "No", and is it more important to refer to what is written in a contract or to talk out disagreements?

The following is a summary of cultural difference between China and the west that we will be covering in more detail in further programs:

The type of logic used, linear versus spiral.

The expression of disagreement, or when does "Yes" mean "No".

Using direct verus indirect language.

The expression of honesty, or a flexible understanding honesty.

Focusing on oneself or on the group, I verus We.

How much emphasis is placed on rules versus context

The importance of contracts versus relationship

Conflict resolution, call in the lawyers or work it out together.

How to lose in order to win

If you find this information useful, you can find more information like this at our website


Hope to see you here in China soon.

Steve Hubbard


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