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Chinese Etiquette

All About Chinese Etiquette

Chinese etiquette is important to know if you spend any time with people of this cultural heritage, whether it be business or personal. It is also imperative to be aware of Chinese customs before going to China for a visit. The concept of “face” is as important to the Chinese as it is to the Japanese or others of Asian descent. That means that nothing negative should be said or done in public regardless of people’s true feelings for one another.

This holding back of true emotions means that you go out of your way to not be disrespectful to another person. Yelling is not something that is done in public in China. Neither should you do anything to insult or embarrass anyone. This will only bring shame back upon yourself. If you are having problems with someone, be polite and ask for help about what to do. Usually the Chinese will go out of their way to see that a problem is taken care of in a friendly manner.

Chinese etiquette has rules that are to be followed when greeting people. Today, however, a handshake from Westerners is understood to be an appropriate greeting. Sometimes it is accompanied by a slight bow of the head, especially if the person is in any kind of official position. If, for instance, you are conducting business, you would greet the most senior person first and then each person in order of rank. This will be easy to establish as with Chinese businessmen, the most senior person enters the room first and leads any discussions.

It is customary to stand when being introduced to another person. If you are going to give the person your business card, do so with both hands and make sure the writing is facing the person receiving the card. When conducting business in China, it is customary to have your business cards in English or your native language on one side and Chinese on the other. If you accept a business card, it should also be done with both hands and not immediately put into a pocket or bag.

In public situations, the Chinese stand close to one another when talking. Don’t step back or indicate that this bothers you as that would be considered insulting. But while closeness is accepted in these occasions, it is not good Chinese etiquette to touch a person. Do not hug a person or place your arm around their shoulder.

The giving of gifts in Chinese culture is also a practice where there are rules that are put into play. It is traditional to bring a gift when invited to dinner or a party. Wine is acceptable as are candies, tea or even cigarettes. Never give the gift of a clock because it is connected with death and dying. Also, white and black colors should be avoided. For instance, never wrap a gift in white paper as is often done in Western countries. To the Chinese, white is a symbol of death. If a Chinese person gives you a gift, do not open it until requested.




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