Chinese negotiating style, is direct or indirect?
One of the questions people ask me about the Chinese negotiating style is whether one can be open and direct or not?
The answer to this question is that you can be more direct than you might think, though less direct than in the West.
I am reminded of the story of the Western business person talking to their Chinese business counterpart. They were talking about the typical relationship building things that most people have heard of, meaning big picture topics and personal opinions about China and it's culture.
The foreign business person than made a smart decision and asked a specific negotiation quesion about whether the partnership would be 50-50. The Chinese person responded that their family connections had Guanxi with the local government and may want a percentage.
There are two great things about the way this was handled. The first is that a personal relationship was first developped without being too concerned about contractual specifics. The second is that the foreigner was smart enough to smoothly talk about some specifics that business conerns without breaking the friendlyness of the conversation.
Because of the way this was handled, both sides received more information about their intentions with the deal. The foreign side should pay attention to these sort of comments and find creative ways to fit them in the deal.
The point here is that even while staying friendly and conversational, it is important to casually reveal the important issues to the deal.
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