Business Practice in China – Tips on Achieving Business Success in Confucian Society

The business practice in China has close bond with the country’s culture and history. It is of vital importance for businessmen to have certain knowledge of Chinese culture to understand their local partners for successful business cooperation. In this article, we’ll mainly discuss the impact of Confucianism on Chinese business etiquette and share some thoughts about achieving success in Confucian society.

Confucianism is the most fundamental philosophy in China, which poses great influence on Chinese mentality and social etiquette even to today. Hierarchical relationships are defined as the essential doctrines to ensure social harmony according to Confucian.

“Managers and followers, father and son, husband and wife, elder and younger, teacher and pupils. The first protect and guide, while the others respect and follow.”

Confucianism regards the unequal of society as a path to harmony, and people should show respect to the seniors. That’s why most companies in China are in hierarchy management style. Also, mutual respect as well as interpersonal trust is held as core value of Confucianism.

To achieve successful business in China, one should study the core values of Confucianism and understand what impacts it exerts in business practices. The following are some instructions for successful business in Confucian society especially China.

1. Cultivate Guanxi for your business contacts. Without doubt, who you know is as important as what you know in China. Guanxi can help you a lot, such as reaching successful deals, saving all the hassles preparing paper application to the government, etc.

2. Ask questions if you do not know about it especially questions related to business practice. Confucius advocates that “Do not be ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimes”, and being modest to learn new things is spoken highly of in Confucianism.

3. Finding a Confucian business mentor who can guide you would be of great help.

4. Watch what your local business partners do and learn from them. For instance, if someone gives out his name card to you using both hands, bow slightly and smile, then do the same thing.

5. Learn a few daily Chinese sentences such as Nihao (Hello), Xiexie (Thank you), Meiguanxi (It doesn’t matter) as politeness is a core value of Confucianism. Even though you can not master Chinese language, a few basic daily sentences can help you win extra business points.

6. Learn to use chopsticks for business dinners. Make sure you can use the chopsticks well during the dinner rather than dropping the food.