Tips for cultural communications

Doing business in China is not necessary difficult, but different. It differs in communications, including culture, language, legal environment, political system, and economic development. For example, China has just transformed from a "planning" political-economy into a socialism-type market economy. What does this mean to you? It means the government's role can and will still be an important part of your business. Government support is more critical in China than in other countries like United States.


So how to conduct a successful business in China? Differences can mean uncertainty; being aware the differences should help preparing yourself. The following are some tips:


  • Be culturally sensitive. Beware the special customs and traditions. In Chinese culture, for example, saving face is considered important. You should not criticize the Chinese practices merely if they are different from your standards.

  • Communicate respect. When interacting with Chinese, consider demonstrating respect, showing positive regard, encouragement and sincere interest for them.

  • Be nonjudgmental. Avoid moralistic, value-laden, or evaluative statements, and listen in such a way that others can fully explain themselves.

  • Realize that perceptions are personal. There is no "one and only way" in cross-cultural communication. Realize that your own perceptions are not necessarily valid for the rest of the world.

  • Show empathy. Understand others from their own point of view and feel about the matter under consideration--"put yourself in Chinese shoes".

  • Tolerate ambiguity. Cope with cultural differences, accept a degree of frustration, deal with changed circumstances and people, with little visible discomfort or irritation.

  • Be positive. Cultural difference does not mean bad, but diverse. In fact, human nature is culturally attractive. So always be positive and expected to learn new things.

  • Be humorous. Humor is panacea in dealing with uncertainties. A warning, though, political issues are sensitive in China, so avoid talking politics publicly.


To learn more about cultural differences between East and West and their business implications, here is another article.