Intercultural Challenges in Chinese Business 1

When doing business in China or dealing with chinese business, you need to be aware of cultural differences between your business culture and the chinese one. Those differences are huge, and can lead to misunderstandings and communication issue, which can have bad consequences on business.

Express Feelings

In the Chinese culture, the most important thing is harmony, keep things well-balanced even if it means not speak your mind. Chinese will rather remain silent than taking the risk of entering a conflict with one other, it is prefered to stay quiet and save face. Indeed, even saying "No" can be very hard. Chinese will rather say "i don't know" or "i'm not sure", even if the "no" is very clear is their head. Also, criticizing is very poorly looked upon. A critic will put your interlocutor in an uncomfortable position, it will rush the harmony so it may not be necessary.

As a person adapted to the Western culture, especially in France, such a behaviour could be considered as a very hypocritical, when this is only a culture difference that we should be able to overcome with an open mind. When dealing with chinese, don't be to direct or brutal : adapt yourself to your chinese interlocutor, be subtle and patient in order not to break the harmony that could lead to the signature of a great contract !!

Managing an issue

You can imagine than with such difficulties to express personal feeling, dealing with an issue may not be easy with chinese people ! Indeed, with this idea that harmony should remain perfect, issue are sometime ignored, because they cannot happen. Chinese rather pretend there is no problem, or solve a problem without informing anyone (including hierarchy) because of their fear to lose face. "Reduice big problems to small problems, and reduce small problems to nothing".

Where French people would sit together and discuss the problem, to find the best solution together, Chinese will rather avoid any possible source of conflict. When you are faceing this issue with a chinese individual, you have to try to avoid confrontation and find a compromise, and more important : be very discret, not to embarassed your chinese interlocutor.



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