It was the Thanksgiving Day. When I was on my way to school, I encountered Tom, my American classmate. Tom gave a gift to me and I gladly accepted the gift, naturally putting it into my bag. He asked me with a confusing look on his face, “Why don’t you open it now?”This intriguing tradition is an epitome of American culture which is quite different from Chinese culture. Indeed, there are three important points of Chinese business culture that expatriates should know: selecting the opportune moment to open the gift, singling out an appropriate gift, and building long-term relationship with others.
Chinese people normally open the gift after backing home, because mystery is very important in Chinese culture. Gift is like a surprise, the more time you keep, the bigger surprise you may get. It is a big enigma before you open the gift. This tradition is not only for the gift, but also for people. People should keep calm and indirect, you need to hide your emotion and keep serious when you negotiate with other company Moreover, it may cause embarrassing scene when you open the gift in front of people. Giver may lose face if the receiver doesn’t look exciting and if the receiver shows jubilant on his face, others may regard him as avarice.
Singling out an appropriate gift could leave a good expression to others and help you achieve your aim. First, it would be the best if you know what the receiver wants. For instance, if your boss likes drinking, a bottle of wine would be a good choice. The behavior of catering to another’s pleasure could make you leave a good impression on others. Second, Taboo also exists in Chinese gift giving customs because there are things you should not give your partner or boss as gifts in China. For example, a clock could never be a gift since the word in Mandarin for clock is similar to the word for death. It is ominous to give umbrellas as gifts in China because the word in Mandarin for umbrella is similar to the word for parting. A pair of shoes would also be bad gift as in China, giving the shoes has the connotation of getting out. The receivers would feel angry, awkward and ominous when receiving gifts like these. Third, the value of gifts depends on the importance of the situations. Although there is a saying in China that the gift is trifling but the feeling is profound, if the situation is important or if you want to be promoted or if you intend to make a sale, you really need to spend more money and energy on the gifts.
Building long-term relationship with others is also essential in Chinese business culture. Compared with short-term relationship, long-term relationship is more stable. On traditional festivals, you need to get in touch with your boss or partner by giving a phone call or presenting a little present. If you do so, people may help you without