As the world grows smaller, you may find yourself travelling from one major city to another for business. If you’re a leading executive you know that major business deals are signed not only in the boardroom, but at the golf course and the dining table. With that being said, international business etiquette, including dining etiquette plays a major role when it comes to conducting business successfully in foreign nations.
Did you know that there are thousands of people who travel to China every year for business? No matter where you travel, being sensitive of other cultures and learning the codes of how locals conduct themselves can earn you valuable points. The Chinese take their food seriously. Contrary to Western dining, dining etiquette in China involves sharing food from common bowls.
If you’re travelling to China to sign a major corporate business deal, pay heed to these top 10 dining etiquette rules by Sally Huang, who hails from Guangzhou, China, before you head out to your next Chinese business dinner:
1. Attend the formal business dinner punctual in formal suits. It is better to bring some small gifts or good win per status of the relationship with the host.
2. Take appropriate seat as they are usually arranged according to seniority. If you are not sure about it, ask the host or wait and see how others take seats.
3. Don’t be surprised if your host orders more food than you can have as it is usually the way Chinese show their hospitality. Moreover, it is a way to show their “Mian zi”, namely face in English as Chinese attach great importance to mianzi.
To reiterate it further, Mianzi, or “face” in English, can loosely be translated to “status” or “self-respect”. A huge part of Chinese social etiquette, having “face” means you are viewed as someone who is respected by your peers, superiors and subordinates. Mianzi can also be understood as the avoidance of embarrassment in front of others.
4. Don’t point your chopsticks directly at others or straight upright in your rice bowl as it resembles the incense burnt at funerals.
5. Don’t slurp your soup loudly at the dinner table as it is considered as impolite.
6. Take food first from the plates in front of you rather than those in the middle or in front of others. Avoid using your chopsticks burrowing through the food and gazing your eyes to the plates as it is thought as bad table manners.
7. Use a spoon that no one has used before to take food from communal plates for yourself or others even though it is common in China that in family gathering or company gathering, people use their own chopsticks to get food.
8. When adding rice to your bowl, it is polite to take initiative to fill the bowls of the elders and others.
9. Drinking bear is a core process. If you are toasting with others, usually it is expressed with the words “Gan bei”, which is denoted as “Cheers” in English, mainly bottoms up or empty your glass. It is not necessary to empty your glass, but to leave a good impression, it would be good to do it or bring someone who can drink on your part.
10. It is usually the host who pays for the bill excluding informal gatherings among friends and other similar occasions. However, in Chinese custom, it is polite to make an effort to pay, that’s the reason why it is common to see some Chinese fighting fierce for the right to pay.
Learning about dining etiquette in China or any other country can give you a major advantage in procuring the deal, especially if you’re competing with other firms.
Talk to Diane Craig before you head out to foreign lands to procure your next business deal. Her international etiquette tips might just be the difference between returning with your head held high – or down.
Travelling abroad for a business trip? You might feel overwhelmed when it comes to practicinginternational business etiquetteor settling in and adjusting to local customs. But, don’t fret – just yet.
Travelling globally for business can actually be a rewarding experience if you’re open to learning about the traditions and practices of the country you’re visiting. In fact, showing enthusiasm and interest in your host country’s culture can actually be very good for business.
Here are top six tips offered by Fox Business, to help you adjust to a new country and come away with the business deal you want:
Observe The best way to adjust to a new culture during business is simply through observation. Patrick Gray, president of the Prevoyance Group, has lived and worked across numerous continents.He suggested, “Watch how others dress, greet each other and interact with other locals.”
Local customs are often formed over many generations so you will certainly make mistakes. As long as you’re a conscious observer, people will know you’re trying and forgive the occasional (and inevitable) missteps.
Practice business etiquette
When you travel for pleasure, you don’t just represent yourself. You become an ambassador for your country and your company. Therefore, proper etiquette should be at the forefront of your mind. This means wearing the proper attire, being punctual and not being distracted by your smartphone when in the presence of an important business associate.
Learn about the country
Since the United States’ culture and politics reach many corners of the globe, chances are that the people you encounter on your business trip will know the name of our president, have an opinion on government and may even have a favorite American television show. You cannot be an expert on every country (nor should you pretend to be), but you should research the country to develop a basic understanding. This simple gesture will communicate that you are an open-minded individual who thinks globally.
Research differences in manners You shouldn’t just learn about the country in general. You should also research how you should operate in the culture specifically. You are, after all, a visitor and should extend respect, as your host country conceives of it. Just a little research can go a long way in learning what your host country thinks is and is not appropriate.
Think beyond your way
Doing business in a different country can be frustrating because you may perceive flaws in the way they execute their business affairs, just as they may perceive flaws in the way you execute your business affairs. Sometimes there are preferred methods for a particular task, but the optimal approach to a specific business maneuver won’t exclusively exist in one country or the other. This is where both cultures can learn from the other. However, since you are a guest in their country, adopt their business manners, at least at first. Enter the culture from a position of humility.
Deal with culture shock
For extended business trips, you may experience culture shock, which often manifests itself in different phases: honeymoon, negotiation, adjustment and acclimation.
During the honeymoon phase, you might see the new culture in a romantic light. The negotiation phase (which can begin after about three months) is when you start to sense the differences between your home culture with your new location in a way that creates anxiety or loneliness. During the adjustment phase (which can last as long as a year, if not longer) you slowly start to feel as if your new culture is normal and any negative feelings may decline. If you reach the acclimation phase, you will feel comfortable and sense that you can be a full participant in the new culture.
While going through the sadder, more difficult phases of culture shock, remember not to take out your frustration on any business clients. On the other hand, when you feel enthusiastic for their culture, feel free to share this with them.
Corporate Class Inc.’s International Business Etiquette module presents essential techniques and strategies for doing business with international clients. The program consists of four linked modules:
1. Understanding cultural differences Be able to recognize the main stumbling blocks facing North Americans abroad. Assess your ability to adapt to another culture and be aware of the dangers of stereotyping.
2. Become familiar with the different categories of culture Become acquainted with how people from different parts of the world value hierarchy, status, performance, legal agreements, scheduling, deadlines, business relationships and personal ownership.
3. Learn different communication styles Assess your own communication skills in personal meetings. Learn the main communication differences: context, styles, intonation, space, gestures and humour. We will offer guidance showing you how you can enrich your communication with international counterparts.
4. Excel in international business interactions Learn the business etiquette of your target country. These include forms of address, introductions, body language, handshaking customs, business card exchanges, appropriate conversation, gift giving and dining.