A crash course in doing business in China
Radoslaw Stanczewski, international programmes and partnerships manager at Warsaw and Shenzhen university, shed an eye-opening light on the importance of cultural awareness when doing business in China during the APAC expert session of the 2018 Global Fleet Conference.
“We see things through a cultural lens. You have to be sensitive for local etiquette. A typical example is business cards: you need them. You might be eco-conscious, but trust me: it’s worth killing a tree. No business card means not being taken seriously and a lack of respect.”
A second cornerstone in doing business with the Chinese is trust. “You have to allow time to build up rapport. If you do not have “a face”, work with a local intermediary to facilitate contacts,” was Mr Stanczewski’s key advice.
Time is not linear
Talking about seizing opportunities, it is crucial to understand that time is not seen as linear, but cyclical in Asia. “An unseized opportunity is not wasted as it will come again. Follow up and return to the table when the time is right.”
Speaking of time and scheduling: South Asia seems to have a rather lax approach towards deadlines and punctuality, contrary to Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore. In China and Vietnam, deadlines and time are negotiable.
“Also, bear in mind that you cannot rush your partners explicitly. Applying flexibility in scheduling is how you get things done”, said Mr Stanczewski.
No means “not yes”
What you must be aware of with regard to communication, is there is no such thing as no. “No in Chinese is actually ‘not yes’. Messages are often implied and dependent on circumstances and context. You have to read between the lines.”
Finally, status and hierarchy are very important. “Use titles and recognise status. Decisions are made at the top, so do not expect a deal to be made at the meeting table.”
Image: Radoslaw Stanczewski, international programmes and partnerships manager at Warsaw and Shenzhen university