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American customs that may be offensive to Chinese business partners

On Behalf of | Jan 31, 2023 | Business Law

Maintaining a good relationship with business partners should be a priority for all businesses, big and small. When it comes to international companies, different cultures and customs can lead to various misunderstandings. If you are an American professional working with Chinese business partners, you may benefit from understanding which of your customs can appear offensive to people from China.

Understanding each other’s customs can reduce the risk of miscommunication.

Accepting a gift right away

In the U.S., it may appear rude if someone does not accept your gift. When someone declines, you typically do not try to give it to the person again. However, it is acceptable in China to decline a gift at least three times before accepting it. If offered a gift by your business partners, consider declining first. Likewise, do not be surprised if you offer a gift only for the other person to decline.

Bargaining for a deal

In many business relationships, even in the U.S., you should be careful of how much you bargain and negotiate. When you negotiate in China, you can look greedy or as if you do not respect the value of another person’s work. Be careful of how much you bargain and try to keep your deals as fair as possible.

Touching too much

In the U.S., people tend to be extra friendly. You may find yourself hugging or touching friends and business partners in the U.S., but while in China, be careful and respect personal space as much as possible. Keep in mind that while you should respect a person’s space, handshakes are always acceptable.

Learning different customs can aid you in communicating without fear of major misunderstandings that could harm your relationship.