Just like you may do without fluent Chinese language skills to succeed in Shanghai’s business world, most Chinese will not expect you to be familiar with all subtleties and nuances of their behavior.
You should, however, take care that you know some basic etiquette rules that will prevent you from putting your foot into your mouth and committing a huge intercultural faux-pas in your professional life. Depending on where you come from, some of these concepts may be well known to you, or they might require a conscious effort to remember.
First of all, try not to forget these fundamental values that are often held in high esteem in Chinese culture, in business life and beyond:
While you may wonder at the crowds in Shanghai’s streets shoving you rudely aside, jumping the (barely existent) line everywhere, or spitting on the street, a meeting in a business environment will be dictated by courtesy and politeness.
Once you have mastered the art of polite introductions, you can progress to actually establishing a business-related conversation with Shanghainese businesspeople. Here are some more ground rules to consider:
Business invitations, toast-giving, and gift-giving are other essential aspects of business culture in Shanghai and other Chinese cities. They, too, are characterized by many intricacies. You might want to take a class in intercultural skills for China before your departure or read up on such customs in publications such as Culture Shock! China or Doing Business in China for Dummies.
Do you want to find out more about Chinese customs and etiquette? In our Extended Guide article, we cover gift giving, chopstick etiquette, and much more.
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