Cross Cultural Communications Vol. 1


A very warm welcome to our first blog article on cross cultural communications, where we will be highlighting some key examples of good and bad communicational habits to be adopted when meeting with clients overseas or even whilst travelling for leisure.


Listed below are our first 10 suggestions on acceptable and non-acceptable communications whilst visiting China.


  1. Emotional expression and emphasis on emotion is common place is communicating in the English language, however in China this is not the case and it is therefore recommended to tone down the use of facial expression to reinforce your point. The Chinese believe there is virtue in concealing your emotions.


  1. Hierarchy is very important to most Eastern cultures and it is considered respectable to greet the most senior person within a group first, acknowledging them as the key person or decision maker. In business this may be the CEO, or in family matters it may be the father.


  1. Exchanging business cards or greetings cards with both hands emphasises the consideration and respect toward the individual you are presenting them to or receiving them from. Be sure to look at the card before putting it away.


  1. Try to avoid pointing at objects, people or places with the index finger and replace with an open hand. This is considered less aggressive and is therefore better received by those watching you.


  1. Contrary to popular belief, gift giving in business situations can be considered bribery and is to be approached with caution. A safe gift to give is to pay for food or beverages shared in a group. There are exceptions to this rule, however in most primary meetings giving gifts can be taken the wrong way.


  1. Names and surnames are reversed in Chinese, you will therefore find that on most occasions people are addressed surname first, first name last.


  1. Unlike in the UK, it is not considered impolite to ask direct personal questions during a first meeting. This is the Chinese way of small talk which is considered respectful to discuss before business matters. Such conversation may include questions relating to your age, salary, job, marital status etc. Try to be as honest and forthcoming as possible as evasiveness does not invoke confidence in the Chinese culture.


  1. Translation of your marketing or sales materials prior to a meeting is highly recommended. Do not use Google translate! Have the documentation translated professionally by a translator or translation agency (such as Communique!) who offer the necessary experience and understanding of the content at hand. A poor translation will not win you the business!


  1. Certain colours have subliminal meaning in China, this is worth considering when dressing for a meeting or producing marketing or sales materials. Red = Prosperity and Happiness, Gold = Nobility and Wealth, White = Commiseration and Sympathy.


  1. You may find that people in China avoid eye contact during conversation. In the UK this is deemed as untrustworthy, however in China it is not intended nor received in that manner. As indicated above, to contain ones emotions is considered to be virtuous and this is perhaps the underlying reason why eye contact is often avoided.


We at Communique Communications Ltd hope that you have enjoyed reading the first volume of our tips on cross cultural communications. We will be releasing a new article every week, so if you would like to read more on this subject or for other news on the translation industry, please subscribe to our blog, follow us on twitter or like us on facebook for future updates.