The Chinese Quest can readily tell you where the best Chinese restaurants are on Long Island and New York City. So, choosing the best Chinese restaurant is easy. Making the most of your next business meeting is partly up to you… Have a good agenda; Keep on topic; Take Minutes; You know, the usual nonsense. And partly up to us to teach you proper manners and protocol. Remember Em-Mee Lee Post? Well, we’re going to call on her again to teach you right.
Having an understanding of Chinese business etiquette is important to your success. Knowing and practicing common customs will also help you relax, avoid embarrassment, and focus on the matters at hand on critical occasions.
Before beginning, recognize that the following qualities are valued by the Chinese and therefore relevant to your Chinese business interactions today:
- Saving and giving face
- Respect for elders and rankings (note that the latter is particularly important when dealing with government officials)
Business in China relies heavily on personal relationships. It is crucial to establish and maintain good relationships with key business contacts and relevant government officials.
Don’t be late, and know who’s boss! The Chinese value punctuality, so arrive on time or even slightly early for meetings or other occasions.
Be well prepared in advance of your meetings. Your Chinese guests will most likely know you and your business quite well. Have a detailed proposition of the value of your company and product; your counterparts will have one for you.
Government officials and top management dress formally for meetings, while business people at working levels may adopt a more casual style. If you’re not sure, go formal – it will convey respect and seriousness.
- Follow cues from your hosts and start eating when the hosts begin.
- At formal banquets and high-end restaurants, serving staff may keep up an almost constant rotation of dishes. They will also change your plate frequently with a clean one, so as not to mix dishes and flavors. While at first this may be distracting, accept the rhythm and you will soon cease to notice it. In order to have a sense of what is coming next, know that the meal will proceed with meats of various varieties and peak with a fish course, followed by a staple (rice, dumplings, noodles) and wind down with a sweet or dessert.
- The Chinese tend to offer a lot of food, and it is acceptable to refuse food if you have dietary restrictions or allergies. However, it is a sign of politeness to accept some of everything, and sample (even a little of) all dishes served. But don’t eat or drink all of something you don’t like, since this may be taken as a sign that you want more! This is where the rotation of plates can serve to your advantage: a nod to the wait staff to remove a plate will allow for your preferences to be accommodated unobtrusively.
Good food, proper etiquette, and a good agenda are the recipe for a successful meeting!
Humbly submitted for your consumption,
—Mee Magnum (“Chop! Chop!”)