9 Tips when doing Business in China

three people in a meeting

Poor communication and language barriers are costing companies a lot of money, yet executives aren’t doing enough about it.

According to a report from the Economist Intelligence Unit — a business research unit of the Economist magazine — nearly half of the 572 senior executives interviewed admitted that misunderstandings and “messages lost in translation” have halted major international business deals for their companies.

And 64 percent of them said poor communication skills have negatively affected their plans to expand internationally.

The earth’s most populous and third-largest country is often thought of as synonymous with ceremony, etiquette, ancient history and culture. International organizations will find a wealth of benefits to doing business in China, however, there are a few cultural challenges that must be taken into account to avoid misunderstandings, conflict, and substantial direct and indirect costs to the organization.

Even though 75 percent of executives think that their employees’ ability to communicate is only average or below average, 40 percent said that their recruiters aren’t being trained enough to select people “suited to cross-cultural environments.”

Most executives do not know where to start or do not have the resources to address the issue. A company like Learnship runs turnkey programs to help organizations recruit and develop talent who can effectively communicate globally, with their peers, their customers, partners, and suppliers.

9 Tips for doing business in China

The following are 9 tips when setting up or doing business in China:

  1. Chinese businesspeople will expect you to be well prepared for the meeting. Make sure to have at least 20 copies of your proposal ready for handing out. Note that presentation materials should be only in black and white, avoid colors.
  2. Small talk is considered particularly important at the beginning of a meeting.
  3. They prefer to establish a strong relationship before closing a deal, so you might have to meet up several times to achieve your objectives.
  4. It is vital for you to maintain composure during meetings. Causing embarrassment or showing too much emotion could have a negative effect on business negotiation.
  5. Regarding decision-making, the Chinese tend to extend negotiations far beyond the agreed deadline to gain some advantage. Be prepared for that: accept their delays and do not mention deadlines. Your patience will be much appreciated!
  6. People in China usually enter the meeting room in hierarchical order. So be careful — they will assume that the first of you walking in the room is the head of the delegation!
  7. Business hours are 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday.
  8. Many Chinese workers take a break between 12:00 and 2:00 pm, during which almost everything stops from working — from lifts to phone services.
  9. It is best to schedule an appointment during these periods: April to June and September to October.

To learn more about how Learnship can improve business communications by eliminating language and cultural barriers contact us.

Karine Allouche Salanon

This page was written prior to our acquisition of GlobalEnglish so some of the copy may be a little confusing. Please excuse any reference to GlobalEnglish or out-dated product names. GlobalEnglish’s One platform is now known as Learnship Solo and is a core part of our offering. You can learn more here.