Learning Mandarin for Effective Business Communication


China is the largest country in Asia and its economy reflects its dominant standing within the region. Chinese businesses cover most areas of the market and offer a wild variety of products and services regionally and globally. Chinese companies present an enticing opportunity for foreign business to establish a foothold in the Chinese market. If you plan to expand your business into China or opening your business to Chinese investors, the first step is to learn their language. There are many schools where you can learn Chinese in Singapore.

Understanding the Chinese Culture

Working with Chinese businesses can be beneficial to anyone. Chinese culture places a stronger focus on the collective, in contrast to the undisputed centrality of the individual in its Western counterparts. This means that members of a group or business will strive for the collective benefit of the organisation, often setting aside their personal goals temporarily to benefit the group. Learning the Chinese language will allow you to better interact and build stronger connections with your Chinese partners to further your business goals.

However, you should always be mindful of the cultural gap between you and your Chinese counterparts. For example, sending gifts in sets of 4 is a strict no-no in Chinese culture as four is a homophone of death in Mandarin.

Chinese Business Communication

Learning Mandarin will allow you to better build personal relationships between you and your business partners. You will be able to hold simple conversations without the help of a translator which will enable you to discuss business with your Chinese counterpart even outside of formal business meetings.

 Chinese Cultural Norms

For more effective Chinese business communication, understanding Chinese cultural norms can also be important. Some of the things you should keep in mind are the following below:

  • Don’t bring a lawyer. We are used of having business meetings with lawyers around, to ensure that everything is done legally and according to the law. But to Chinese people, the presence of a lawyer might indicate distrust or that you are trying to take advantage of them.
  • Avoid attempts at humor and jokes. If you are not yet fluent in Mandarin, avoid trying to throw jokes around. Too often, jokes get lost in translation and cause misunderstandings.
  • Watch your behavior and converse clearly. Many Chinese people will observe your actions rather than on what you are saying. It is important to know different actions that could have different meanings and think about some practices that could show respect instead.
  • Don’t offer gifts. Chinese may be conscious on the gifts they receive as it necessitates returning the gift appropriately. It is simply best to avoid it and bring your business partners to a meeting place where they’ll be comfortable.

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