Thursday, November 25, 2010

Chinese Negotiation Style - How Chinese Say No

Hi, this is Steve Hubbard

One of the things people new to conducting business in China often don't understand is the way the Chinese say "No".

According to business etiquette in China, it is generally considered a bad thing to directly say "No" so someone.  This is based in the fact that it is considered disrespectful and could cause the other person to lose face, or mianzi.

Instead of directly saying "No", the Chinese cultural custom is to use indirect means to signal disagreement.  The Chinese negotiation style is to use objections to indicate disagreement.

An example would be that if the Western business person proposed that they take some action, the Chinese partner might object that it will be too expensive.  The Westerner would overcome this objection and assume that the issue is settled.  If the Chinese partner does not make any more objections than it may be true that this issue is resolved.  On the other hand, if the Chinese partner continues to raise objections, this could be their way of trying to communicate that this course of action is unacceptable.  The Western business person often misses the point and focuses on overcoming each objection instead of realizing that the Chinese partner is trying to say "No" to their suggestion.

This type of misunderstanding is common when Westerners come to Asia and do business.  So, when you come here and setup a company in China, be aware that there are many differ China business customs and practices.  Gradually, overtime it is possible to learn how to work harmoniously together.

If you find this information helpful and want to learn 3 Chinese habits visit

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