Extremely Subtle Dos And Don’ts In Hong Kong’s Business Culture
Doing business in Hong Kong be a great experience, but it does come with its own troubles. Not knowing some of the most subtle taboos and cultural expectations is a great example, and one that can mark you as an unfavorable business partner. Here are some of the most important yet veiled dos and don’ts when doing business in Hong Kong.
Giving And Receiving Business Cards
In the west, giving someone their business card is just a matter of whipping it out and handing it to the other person with arms extended. In Hong Kong, you do it by holding the card with both hands, clasping the corners with the forefingers and thumbs, and then offering it to the other party. When you are the one receiving the business card, make sure to actually read it in front of the person before putting it away.
The concept of saving face exists everywhere, but in Hong Kong, it is treated with near extreme importance. Causing anyone embarrassment in any way will substantially warp business relations no matter how close the parties previously were.
While western business gatherings or meetings can be loud and contentious, such events in Hong Kong are often maintained impeccably balanced. This means that no one is overly enthusiastic or explicitly depressed. Being reserved is the safest option here, with the occasional smile and chuckle.
Seniority And Hierarchy
Both age and one’s place in the corporate or social ladder are treated with a level of significance in Hong Kong that is rarely seen in western countries. Not only is seniority an automatic reason for showing respect, superiors in any company are often obeyed without question.
Familiarity Is Earned
The Chinese are a reserved people and this extends to practically every facet of their lives, their business included. As such, outsiders are expected to respect certain boundaries even if those limits aren’t explicitly described. For example, you don’t get to express your opinions thoughtlessly, especially if you weren’t asked. You should also avoid asking about someone’s plans regardless of how considerate your reasons are.