Globalization is on the rise hence there is more need for different people to do business with the Chinese. Language is vital in bridging international relationship. Expectations on culture and etiquette in the language are more necessary. Prakash Sethi (2014) asserts that increasing understandings of the Chinese business culture, their social etiquette aid in averting miscommunication and misunderstanding. An important rule in understanding and applying the Chinese business etiquette is when in China, do as the Chinese do (Vollmer, 2012).
On greetings, a handshake is commonly used, but it’s important to wait for the counterpart to initiate the greeting. When addressing using titles, then it should be done with the title first, followed by the surname. Exchanging business cards in China is part of introductions since it is observed as part of the person. While entering meeting rooms, it should be in hierarchical order, and an assumption is made that the first person walking in the room is the delegation’s head. The business card should be presented or received by both hands. Shrivastava (2012) denotes that in China, business cards are treated with great respect, hence while receiving it, it should be placed in a business card holder and not pocket or wallet. It is advisable that the business card one side be in English and the other in simple Chinese.
Chinese people open conversations by breaking the ice, using small charts. During conversations, it is essential to give a favorable impression of and strictly to avoid political discussions like those related to Tibet, Taiwan, and human rights. In China, it is essential to stay calm, collected and controlled in body language and movements. The body posture should be formal and attentive which exhibits respect and control. On decision making according to (Prakash Sethi 2014), Chinese like lengthy negotiations past the agreed deadline for their advantage, therefore the counterpart’s patience is essential. For business meetings, in China, conservative suits are preferred for the dress code, while bright colors aren't considered. Rank is critical in China therefore during eating the seniors are expected to dig in first, and clearing plate is considered that you are not satisfied. Always expect to be served about twenty or more courses of meals. Therefore, overeating at once will not be possible. Premium delicacies in China may include dog meat, scorpions, blood, locusts, and snake hence don't be surprised. Shrivastava (2012) notes that when invited for drinks, don’t be hesitant because during business meetings, it is part of building a personal relationship and it implies taking part in their drinking culture. During eating avoid sticking the chopstick straight into the bowl, because such actions are done at funerals. The person who made invitations pay bills. Chinese people prefer giving a face and not losing it. It is vital to be keen while commenting using strong negative statements like using a blunt “No,” it’s better to use “maybe.”
Steps to make a favorable first impression
Business entrepreneurs are aware that growing their businesses are more than just their good business ideas. According to some studies, the first seven seconds in meeting somebody, that’s when the first impression is made. No matter how good a business idea or product is according to Holtz (2015), if a good impression is not made in the first business meeting, then there are high chances of losing potential business partnerships or investors. Managing personal image and being aware of business etiquette is a skill to be mastered by those seeking business partnerships or financing.
Mary should be punctual at the meeting. It will ensure that she doesn’t waste Mr. Lau’s time. Arriving late to business meetings make the counterpart uncomfortable. On meeting with Mr. Lau, Mary should give the right handshake. Diliberto and Brewer (2012) denote that internationally, handshakes are a professional sign of being polite and when proper, it expresses confidence. Handshakes in China are accepted with brief eye contact since when too much it’s an indication of a challenge. Mary should dress appropriately and professionally. Appropriate dressing codes give a look that you are capable of progressing and make you feel comfortable and confident. It will make Mary feel presentable and at ease, therefore be in control. Smiling is important; subsequently, facial impressions are significant while making the first impression. Through smiling, Mary is capable of associating her brand with positivity, and it will also make her counterpart feel comfortable around her. Making a small talk put those you meet with at ease before the meeting starts (Ainsworth, 2014).
Mary should break the ice since this is also a practice of the Chinese business etiquettes. Before attending and during the meeting, Mary should be informed, upfront and confident. Business counterparts find you trustworthy if there is an indication that you know something about their businesses. Researching on your business counterpart submerges you in their business world. Mary should be capable of being abreast of Mr. Lau’s business to be able to bring common issues on the table, such as business standards, competitors, and challenges so that to improve her counterpart’s trust. According to Mann and Ferguson (2015), taking notes during the business meeting means that you won’t leave out important issues discussed and it also builds the counterparts confidence. Mary taking notes will be an indication of taking her counterpart’s words seriously, ensure that they are on the same page and that she’s focused. Speaking clearly and making eye contact enhances confidence and averts getting overlooked. Speaking clearly will enable Mary to portray herself in a positive light hence give Mr. Lau reasons to listen to her.
Hofstede’s theory of cultural dimensions entails a basis that surrounds cross-cultural communication formulated by Geert Hofstede. De Mooij (2010) denote that according to Hofstede, culture is combined programming that distinguishes a category of people and members from another. The group of people entails ethnicities, religions, and regions within or across nations, organizations, occupations, and gender. Hofstede studies identified and validated five dimensions that were independent. These included power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance and long-term orientation.
Power distance - It is the degree of inequality that is accepted and exists between people who have or don’t have power. Munley (2011) asserts that the main issue is how various societies handle disparities among people. Between Mary and Mr. Lao, there is power difference and inequality. Individualism – It is the strengths of ties people have within their community. It is the inclination for a social framework that is loosely-knit in which people are anticipated only to take care of themselves plus their close family members. Individualism is characterized by adopting contractual relationships that revolve exchange of fundamentals. Through Mary’s visit to China and her intention to do businesses, there will be a contractual relationship that she’ll create before calculating his profits or loss. In individualism, it is perceived that Mr. Lao would be more assistive to those he is close to like the Chinese. Hence, Mary would not receive enough help. Masculinity – It is the distribution of roles among men and women. According to Huang and Lu (2017), masculinity is characterized by men being tough and concentrating on material achievement.
Understanding issues related to wealth are considered to be connected to the husband by women. Men are expected to show their success, be strong and fast. There is a clash of culture in that Mary is supposed not to be concentrating on material achievement which is investing in Australia and China. Uncertainty avoidance – It defines how individuals can cope with anxiety. It is the extent to which individuals from a society manage forthcoming uncertainty without undergoing stress. Mary’s plan to meet her counterpart is bound with uncertainty avoidance in that she isn’t aware if Mr. Lao will turn up or turn down the meeting. Carrying out her business in China is also not known if it will come to pass. Mr. Lao is not aware if the meeting will materialize until it does. Long-term orientation – It is whereby the society is trying to maintain links with their past and at the same time deal with the present and future challenges. It is evident in life such that, there is existence of unequal relationship among people ensure a society that is stable. It entails tasks in life that are concerned with virtues such as working hard, acquiring skills, and being wise. It plays out in Mary’s situation in that she seems to be more persistent than her counterpart. She also appears to be more futuristic and dynamic mentality the way she has ventured in business locally and is trying to do it internationally. A mismatch occurs in that Mr. Lao only does business in China.
Meetings can go wrong if nothing gets accomplished during them which may result in frustrations. Carrying out business meetings involves time and money hence they should be made a priority for business success (Pickett, 2014). Actions that make business meetings a success require management before, during and after the meeting.
Mary should plan the meeting. Through planning, she should identify what she intends to accomplish and establish goals for the meeting. She should ensure she stays on topic that is supposed to be addressed. She should be calm and polite during the meeting. Diliberto (2014) asserts that controlling emotions, paying attention to body language and not being rude and anxious enable a fruitful meeting. Mary should keep the meeting short and precise by discussing important issues and asking relevant questions. She should encourage participation during the meeting by creating a friendly atmosphere for Mr. Lao to feel comfortable. Results are accomplished when a team pulls together than when an individual tries to push the other, hence the need for encouraging participation. She should create meeting norms such as switching off or silencing the phone and respecting her counterpart’s opinion.
In any national cultures, there are numerous subcultures within different regions, industries, and organizations. It is significant to understand where the different culture falls to tailor communication appropriately. While carrying out first business meeting, it is vital to leave an encouraging and first lasting impression. Carrying out business meetings is a useful tool for enhancing businesses hence the need to make them successful by creating agenda, being attentive and keeping it short. Well-planned business meetings present achievable results.
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