Thursday, October 21, 2010

Chinese Etiquette and Protocol....and bad manners...


I have just finished writing a presentation on Modern Chinese Business Etiquette and Protocol for a workshop I am presenting next Tuesday. Here in Western Australian the corporate community is necessarily looking towards a greater understanding of the manners, etiquette and rituals of the Chinese as the country is now the biggest trading partner as a result of the “boom”in the resources sector here.

I was fortunate to have a full time office of The Percy Institute in Singapore for 3 years from 2000. Despite many early difficulties, including learning the nuances of communication with Chinese business partners, the experience was extremely fulfilling.

In 2002 we also opened an office in Shanghai. I used to stay in the apartment our company rented in a “middle class”(Chinese description!) area and one of the most joyful moments for me was joining the Chinese at dawn to practice the art of tai chi under beautiful trees. It was a gentle moment before 10 hours a day training, through an interpreter, local Chinese to conduct The Percy Institute programs

The other amazing experience that I vividly recall was, as the only visible white woman, visiting with my Chinese assistant, Shee Suh Ying the “wet market”. The looks I received from the local stall holders were incredulous but I revelled in breathing in the amazing atmosphere. On returning to the apartment Suh Ying would teach me how to cook Chinese food and I would show her how to prepare some of my favourite European dishes.


Unfortunately due to the “ unorthodox” accounting practices of my Chinese business partner the Singaporean company was wrapped up in 2004…with much of the profits siphoned off by her into the Shanghai bank account which I as a foreigner could not access.  Appallingly bad manners.  One lives and learns!

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