Cultural Diversity and China Essay
Cultural diversity is a substantial part of the business assembly in the world today. The ability to interact with people from the western world to the eastern world has been made easily accessible through the use of technology. The means by which we communicate has made the transferring of information faster and less personal. However still to this day the most direct, effective and personal way to communicate with others is face-to-face communication (Varner, 2008).
This process allows for the interaction of differing cultures; to process information, understand each other to collaborate on business opportunities. The mergence of cultures in business is a process, which needs to be thoughtfully entered upon. If an assumption were made that all people communicate by nature through processing information in the same way, there would be no effective communication, as this is not the case. People process communication on different levels and because of this we need to be made more culturally aware in how we interact. An action may be perceived very differently when presented to two people of differing cultures. To maximize business relations between cultures it is in the best interests to better understand the historic diversity of a culture.
The history of a culture plays an integral roll in the traditions, actions and thought patterns of many people. When you understand the history of a culture, you can better understand the reasoning behind business practices and processes they use. Preparation is a key component to any success; cultural awareness can also be successfully accomplished with preparation. Chinese business etiquette is a high context environment and as far as appearance, behavior and how they communicate is very different then those of a low context culture. In China your professional appearance is very important. For the purposes of business, men usually wear very casual suits with neutral colors. The women in China usually do not show of much of their body, short skirts, high-heeled shoes and dresses should not be worn in the business setting. The Chinese will usually be offended if a woman shows off too much of her body. Jeans are not acceptable to business meetings either but they may be worn in casual settings.
The Chinese behavior between business relations is very different from low context cultures. The Chinese people keep business relationships separate from friendships. When you are introduced to s Chinese businessperson it is important to avoid a lot of hand movements, this is believed to offend people and can found as obnoxious and disturbing. Eye contact or starring into person’s eyes is also not accepted and viewed as an impolite act when conversing. The most accepted way of greeting or making contact with a Chinese person is to make sure they give their hand first and shake hands firmly but not shaking too much. Bowing is also widely accepted to introduce oneself or shaking your head up and down is a regular greeting custom. Chinese people do not express themselves with hand movements in conversation, and they do not point, or talk with their hands. This behavior can observed as aggressive and not a socially acceptable behavior (Ricks, 2000).
When meeting a Chinese businessperson it is important to keep introductions formal. The use of formal titles is the proper method of addressing someone. The Chinese believe in ranking and seniority and addressing someone informally without their professional title is seen as disrespectful. When address a person using his or her family name only, such as Mr. Chen or Ms. Hsu. The Chinese family name comes first and is usually one syllable. A one or a two-syllable given name follows a family name (Alder, 2001). For business purposes, it is traditionally acceptable to call a Chinese person by the surname, together with a title, such as “Director Wang” or “Chairman Li.” Avoid using someone’s given name unless you have known him or her for a long period of time. Formality is a sign of respect, and it is advisable to clarify how you will address someone very early in a relationship, generally during your first meeting. ( In China, it is assumed that the first person that enters the room is the head of the group. Westerners should observe this convention so as not to confuse the Chinese.
Important guests are usually escorted to their seats. If the meeting room has a large central table, the principal guest is likely to be seated directly opposite the principal host. Time is also a very important aspect of business in China. Being on time is important and arriving late to a business meeting in China is a sign of disrespect. Therefore arranging appointments while conducting business to show the Chinese people you are professional and are respectful. Once the meeting is over it is proper form to allow the Chinese to leave the meeting first as this is a sign of respect for the other person.
When exchanging business cards, hold out your card using both hands with the writing facing the recipient. Cards should always be exchanged individually (one-on-one). The action of tossing or dealing your business card across the table is considered extremely rude. To prevent an awkward situation it is recommended receive a business card with both hands and scan it immediately for vital information. It is demeaning to put someone’s card directly into your pocket without looking at it first. (Alder, 2001). A person should never write on a business card or directly put it in your wallet or pocket. It is an essential item in China custom to carry a small business card case to maintain business contacts.
These differences mentioned can be observed as regular business practices in China. It is recommended that following proper form of etiquette in business to be successful when interacting with people from diverse cultures. One of the most important aspects of becoming culturally aware is to remember the history behind why a culture operates in particular manner. The high context culture of China is an extremely proud group of people. They place a high value on honor, morals, seniority and respect. The foundation of the operations of business is stemmed from these historic values. Having a foundation of historic education of a culture will help in the transition from one culture to the next.
It is known that a large percentage of communication is transferred through the passing of verbal and non-verbal factors, the interpretation of these cues can play a factor in how varying cultures process these cues. (Varner, 2008). To adapt seamlessly to a culture would be best completed by gaining a sense of cultural awareness of others beliefs and customs. Preparation, knowledge and understanding of others practices will bring forth a better chance of being respected in China. The importance of cultural intelligence plays an integral roll of the success of doing business in China. Being aware of the forms and cultural differences through being open to difference will allow for successful communication between opposite cultures.
Alder, Nancy J. International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior. Fourth Edition, South-Western College Publishing 2001. Ricks, David A. Blunders in
International Business, Blackwell Publishers; 3rd edition, January 2000.
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