Business Etiquette in China

Business etiquette refers to the corporate etiquette that determines the social behavior rules and patterns in a workplace. These etiquettes include codes of conduct that are not spoken publicly but are expected to be known and recognized by everyone. It ranges from the way of addressing in the workplace to the sitting arrangements at a business dinner. That's why learning business etiquette is crucial for your professional image and business relationships.

Business ethics can differ in each country. Even sometimes, corporate etiquette changes based on sector and company. Therefore, reviewing the business ethics rules accepted by your customers before each job interview will give you a big plus.

So, are the business ethics rules in China the same as it is the West or anywhere else? There are not huge differences, but cultural differences in particular still determine corporate etiquette. When meeting with your Chinese customers and partners, you can make significant progress in your business relationships and leave a good impression on everyone if you apply these etiquettes.

1. Greetings and Welcoming

It is common to shake hands and even kiss slightly on the cheek when you meet someone in Turkey. However, there is no such habit in China, so always wait for the other person to take the initiative and extend their hand first. But never try to kiss anyone or clutter your head.

2. Addressing Colleagues 

The forms of address in Chinese often include the person's status, similar to other Asian cultures. In addition, the Chinese can use the person's internal position in the company, president, manager, etc. Therefore, when addressing, you can either add Xiansheng Nvshi (先生,女士) to at the end of their names, or you can use as in English forms. However, try not to address someone you just met by name only or by using suffixes such as -Kun -Chan -San at the end of their name as in Japanese.

3. Business Card Exchange

It is expected that business cards will be exchanged when there is a meeting or a meeting with the other party in China for the first time. Therefore, you can also make a gesture by giving your business card in your meetings. But if you give your business card using both hands, you will also express the respect you show to the other party.

4. Chat and Small Talks

Small talks occupy an important place in daily life in China. If you can keep these little conversations going smoothly, you can come to the main issues later. However, for example, in Turkey, when asking on the sidelines or establishing dialogue with simple questions, we use the phrases "How are you?", "How are things going?". In China, on the other hand, someone can ask you whether you have eaten or not, or where you have been traveling, what your impressions are on China, and many other ways. In this way, people try to be polite and stir away from any problematic issues. Therefore, do not tell in detail what you have eaten for lunch, where you have been, or what problems you have encountered. Keep the dialogue going by giving short, simple, and positive answers.

5. Speaking Style and Maintaining dialogue

Talking in a relatively slow and speaking with the courtesy in bilateral or group meetings will allow you to manage the entire session. First of all, keep in mind that you or the person in front of you represents their country, but no one is an ambassador. Never comment on political issues such as Tibet, Taiwan, etc. Likewise, remember that the other person's comments on your country may stem from their ignorance of the world outside. Therefore, a calm and target-oriented speech will prevent you from deviating from your goal and force the other party to follow your lead. Likewise, when speaking with the Chinese, keep in mind that instead of using absolute negative words such as "No", "Impossible" you can use "Maybe", "Could be", "I see" will enable you to shut the talk without giving a negative answer. When the Chinese respond to your proposals like "Maybe," "we will see," and so on, you should also understand what their reply means (which is "No").


Each geography, country, or even industry can have its etiquette. It is pretty normal for people from different cultures to have different perspectives and habits of events. Therefore, if you learn business etiquette before your visits or meetings, you will leave a better impression and create a more trustworthy foundation for your business relations.