What You Should Know About the Chinese Work Culture

If you’re planning to start a business in China or travel there for work, there are several things you’ll need to know. 

But none of them is more important than having a clear understanding of Chinese work culture. The work culture there is massively different from what we are used to in the US and other western countries. 

If you don’t take the time to learn it, you may find it harder to adjust to the local business environment, something that may ultimately affect your success. 

Nonetheless, here are several important points to keep in mind:

  1. You Can Negotiate

It always seems like everything in China is negotiated. You can’t just storm into a board room and layout your demands. 

While most of us in the US are used to those iron-clad non negotiable contracts, in China things are a bit different. 

Both parties involved in a deal or any transaction go in with a fair bit of flexibility. They understand that nothing is written on stone and that circumstances may change. This is why it’s allowed to change some aspects of an agreement to benefit both parties. 

In most cases, decisions about a contract or a business are made long after every party has left the meeting as negotiations can sometimes go on for longer than expected.

  1. You Have to Maintain a Good Relationship with the Government 

Before you start marketing in China, you may want to know that maintaining a close relationship with the government is paramount. 

In the US, you couldn’t care less whether the government is watching or not. But in China, certain rules are expected of any business and one of them is maintaining good terms with the government. 

  1. You Can Nap at Work

Unlike other parts of the world, working hours in China are long. You also rarely get overtime payments. 

This is something that Chinese employers are aware of. As a result, they often encourage employees to take an hour from their long workday to nap. 

This doesn’t just happen in the workplace. Even in schools, you’ll find teachers and students taking an hour to nap in the middle of the school day. 

These naps are entrenched in Chinese work culture because they help to maintain employee morale. They also go a long way in keeping up productivity. 

  1. You Shouldn’t Be Too Direct

Back in the US, and most countries in the west, taking a stand on issues is celebrated and encouraged a lot. But in China, things are a bit different. 

Even if you have strong opinions about something, it’s always best to keep them to yourself. Chinese people go out of their way to avoid unnecessary arguments. 

  1. You Must Respect the Hierarchy

Chinese corporate organizational culture is hierarchical. 

It’s expected that every employee must respect and recognize this hierarchy. For instance, it’s considered rude to address someone at the top of that hierarchy by their name. 

Instead, you’re encouraged to always add their title before their name. For example, you can say director so and so or supervisor so and so.

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