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Commentary on Social Etiquette

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Nowadays, the 21st century, uncivilized violence isn’t the way to dominate the world or other human beings. We aren’t barbarians but we are some civilized people. In order to gain others respect, we should not only have a tidy image but we should also follow some important social etiquette, which are surely useful and valuable. Etiquette is not just for dinner parties or impressing your future in-laws. It can be used in a lot of different area including greeting, gift giving or even negotiating. It is heard that “Do in Rome as Rome does.” Different country would have different local etiquette. On arrival in a new place, we have to learn about their local customs. It may even more emphasize in the Chinese society because of its long historical and cultural deposit. There are some special manners for the Chinese. Do not call anyone by his first name, unless you are on familiar terms, like close friend. It will be treated as impolite action.

If you are invited for any kind of visiting, small gifts like wine, tea, cigarettes or candies are kindly welcomed. Besides, following some good etiquette can also give a great help when we are having some business greeting. Good business etiquette can directly affect the way people perceive us and influence whether or not they want to give you their business. It is of crucial importance to build kind relationship with the one that you may employ to act as intermediaries. No one will hate emblazonment. So, don’t be shy to praise people. Last but not least, cultivate good business manners is clearly not a difficult thing for we to attempt. If we follow these, it is believed that we can achieve success more smoothly and easily.

Business, Etiquette and Social Media
By Lauren Simonds Aug. 13, 2013
Etiquette—it’s not just for dinner parties or impressing your future in-laws. These tips can help avoid gaffes and build business success in the social media age. Today’s discussion, gentle readers, pertains to etiquette. That’s right, you heard me. In the rush of signing the deal, building the business and putting out the fires, manners still matter. Good business etiquette, and particularly its absence, can directly affect the way people perceive you—and influence whether or not they want to give you their business. In an article on Small Business Computing, Pedro Hernandez discusses several tips from “The Essentials of Business Etiquette,” by Barbara Pachter. While most small business owners understand that a poised, professional demeanor goes a long way to making a good impression, in the era of smartphones, social media and always-on communication, that alone isn’t enough. The good news is that it’s not difficult to cultivate good business manners. If you don’t already do so, incorporate these simple tips into your business routine. (MORE: Take Your Business to the Next Level)

Think Before You Post
The Internet never forgets, and one tweet in the heat of the moment can go viral, which only magnifies the damage. Employ good judgment and make it a point to reply only after you’ve taken time to think things through. And don’t even think about publicly venting your frustration about a client or customer. You can lose a lot of business from one misguided tweet. Picture Perfect

Include a profile picture for each social media platform that you use. This advice may seem basic and obvious, but too many small business owners miss this step. Use a professional headshot, dress appropriately for your industry and smile. Whatever you do, don’t leave the default icon—for example, the Twitter egg—it’s unprofessional and sends the message that you can’t be bothered with details. People Trump Phones

When you’re meeting with a client or customer, attending a dinner or other business function, put your phone away and out of sight. Leaving it on the table impresses no one, and instead sends a message that the people you’re with aren’t worth your time and attention. Just about any call or message can wait until you conclude your current business. (MORE: Eight Steps to an Effective Welcome Email)

Confidence Yields Results
You may be tempted at times to use a little self-deprecating humor. Don’t do it. You may think you’ll come across as modest or gracious. You won’t. You will, however, risk appearing unqualified. In fact, Pachter’s book offers a list of phrases to avoid, including initiating a conversation by saying “sorry to bother you.” Instead, “excuse me, do you have a moment” gets the job done politely and with more confidence.

Living in China
China Social Etiquette
China has long been regarded as a state of etiquette and ceremonies. Many proverbs relating to the importance of good manners have been passed down generation after generation – “civility costs nothing” and “courtesy demands reciprocity” are amongst the most popular. Unfortunately, the Chinese behave in a way that is often perceived as impolite by many Westerners, a consequence of disparities in culture and historical views of social decorum. A better understanding of Chinese social etiquette is important for anyone who wishes to reside or set up a business in China.

Greeting Etiquette
Greeting is unavoidable. Where Chinese names are concerned, the surname precedes the given name. For example, Jackie Chan’s Chinese name is Cheng Long, where Cheng is his surname and Long his given name. Professional, social and family titles always follow the name instead of preceding it. Manager Zhou would be Zhou jing li (where jing li means “manager” in Chinese), to indicate the person’s working title, while Mr. (xian sheng in Chinese) and Mrs. (tai tai in Chinese) are said after the surname. It is uncommon and sometimes considered discourteous, to call someone only by his or her last name, unless specifically asked.

Do not call someone by his first name as well, unless you are on familiar terms. You may always address your Chinese friends or associates by their surname followed by their title. Among Chinese, a common way to address each other, regardless of gender, is to add age-related terms of honor before the surname, which includes Lao (honorable old one), Xiao (honorable young one) or occasionally Da (honorable middle-age one).

Handshakes are a form of greeting in China, customarily employed to show respect. The grip should be firm but not prolonged because Chinese, like other Asians, prefer a brief handshake. While meeting elders or senior officials, the handshake should be gentler and accompanied by a slight nod. Sometimes, to show warmth, a Chinese will cover the normal handshake with his left hand. Chinese also usually lower their eyes slightly when they meet others.

The Chinese are not keen on physical contact. One must be conscious of one’s own body language and movement when doing business in China. You should always present yourself as calm, collected and controlled. Body posture should always be formal and attentive, portraying self-control and respectability.

Gift Giving Etiquette
Gift giving is considered an important way of showing courtesy. It is appropriate to give gifts on occasions like festivals, birthdays, weddings, or when visiting patients. The Chinese do not usually accept gifts, invitations or favors when first presented. Politely refusing 2 or 3 times is thought to reflect modesty and humility. To accept something in haste makes a person look aggressive. Traditionally, the monetary value of a gift indicates the importance of a relationship, but the symbolic nature of gifts has become more significant in recent years.

If you are invited to for a family visit, small gifts like wine, tea, cigarettes or candies are welcome. For other events, one should pay attention to any cultural differences that may arise. Contrary to Western beliefs, odd numbers are considered unlucky. Therefore, wedding presents and birthday gifts for senior citizens should be sent in pairs. Though four is an even number, its pronunciation is similar to “death” in Chinese and is therefore taboo. Also, gifts should be presented with both hands. When wrapping the gifts, one must be aware that the Chinese attach much importance to color. Red is lucky, pink and yellow represent happiness and prosperity, while grey and black are only appropriate for funerals.

White and yellow flowers, especially chrysanthemums, are used for funerals and should be avoided. In addition, the Chinese word for ‘pears’ is pronounced similarly to the word for “separation” and is thus considered bad luck. Red ink should not be used for writing cards or letters as it signifies the end of a relationship. Lastly, clocks of any kind cannot be bought as gifts as the expression “giving a clock” in Mandarin is almost identical phonetically to “seeing someone off on his final journey”.

Dining Etiquette
An individual place setting for an everyday meal includes a bowl of rice, a pair of chopsticks, a flat-bottomed soupspoon, and a saucer. Seating arrangements, which are based on rank, are stricter than in Europe and America. This is one reason why you should give your host a list of delegation members and their rank. Guests should wait for hosts to guide them to their places. Traditionally, the Chinese regard the right side as superior and the left as inferior. Therefore, on formal occasions, the host invariably arranges for the main guests to sit on his right.

Instead of a napkin, a hot towel is often provided at the end of the meal for the diner to wipe his hands and mouth. The meat and vegetable dishes are laid out all at once in the center of the table, and the diners eat directly from the communal plates using their chopsticks. Soup is also scooped into one’s own bowl from a common soup vessel. The saucer is used for bones and shells, or as a place to rest a bite taken from a communal plate when it is too large to eat all at once. It is perfectly acceptable to reach across the table to take a morsel from a dish on the other end. To facilitate access to all the dishes, Chinese dining tables are more likely to be square or round, rather than elongated like their western counterparts.

Eating begins in order of seniority, with each diner taking the cue to start from his or her immediate superior. Children are taught to eat equally from each dish in turn, never betraying a preference for a particular item by eating more of it, never seeming to pause to choose a specific bite from the plate. This is the easiest way to eat it and shows proper enjoyment – eating the rice or noodle from a bowl left sitting on the table suggests dissatisfaction with the food. The diner is meant to consume all the food laid out before them. To leave grains is considered bad manners, showing a lack of respect for the labor taken to produce it.

People drink tea nearly all day, but at meals, soup is usually provided at the table. At special events, there may also be wine or liquor, especially Chinese liquor. Sweet foods are usually reserved for special events and are served between courses. They are also served during small meals at tea houses.

Traditionally speaking, there are many taboos at the Chinese dining table, but not many people pay attention to them. However, there are a few things to keep in mind, especially if you are a guest at a private home.

Firstly, one must never stick one’s chopsticks upright in the rice bowl. Instead, lay them on the dish provided. The reason for this is that when somebody dies, their shrine contains a bowl of sand (or rice) with two sticks of incense stuck upright in it. So if you stick your chopsticks in the rice bowl, their resemblance to the incense sticks at shrines makes them the equivalent to wishing death upon a person at the table. Secondly, ensure the spout of the teapot is not facing anyone. It is very impolite to set the teapot down with the spout facing a dinner guest. The spout should always be directed at a spot where nobody is sitting. Top

Business Etiquette
Definition of Mianzi, Keqi and Guanxi
Mianzi, or “face” in English, can loosely be translated to “status” or “self-respect”. Having “face” means you are viewed by your peers, superiors and subordinates as someone respectable. Mianzi can be understood as the avoidance of embarrassment in front of others.

The notion of keqi is based on the amalgamation of two Chinese words, with “ke” meaning guest and “qi” indicating “behavior”. Keqi is the concept of humility and modesty that is illustrated through being considerate, polite and well mannered. The expression is most often used in the negative, as in “bu yao ke qi”, which can be translated literally to “you shouldn’t be so kind and polite” (however, it simply means “you’re welcome”, rather than an actual invitation to be rude).

Guanxi, refers to the relationship between people and is the fundamental glue that holds society together. It can also be understood as the relationship network between various cooperating parties that support one another. It is essential for the Chinese to have good relationships. By the getting the right “guanxi”, firms could minimize the risks, frustrations and disappointments when doing business in China.

Building Relationship
Business cards are exchanged during an initial meeting. Use both hands when presenting business cards and ensure that the writing faces the person to whom you are presenting your cards. Cards should also be received with both hands. Do not immediately put the card in a pocket or wallet, which is considered rude in China. It is better to print the business cards in English on one side and Chinese on the other.

Relationships in China are very formal. It is worth remembering that you are representing your company when doing business, so always keep dealings at a professional level. Never become too informal and avoid humor. This is not because the Chinese are not humorous but rather, the jokes may lose their meaning in translation and hence be redundant.

When doing business in China, it is of crucial importance to build contacts you may employ to act as intermediaries. This will bring about multiple benefits, as they can act as a reference, be your interpreter and navigate the legal, political and local systems and local business networks.

Meeting & Negotiation Etiquette
Meetings must be made in advance. It is suggested that some literature regarding one’s company be provided to one’s Chinese counterparts. Avoid meeting on all national holidays, especially Chinese New Year. Punctuality is vital when doing business in China. Ensure you are early, as late arrivals are seen as an insult. Meetings should begin with some brief talks or an introduction. Keep it positive.

Prior to any meeting, always send an agenda. This will allow you to have some control over the flow of the meeting. The Chinese approach meetings differently, so rather than beginning with minor or side issues, work your way up to the core issue.

Guests are generally escorted to their seats, and are seated in descending order of rank. Senior staff members generally sit opposite other senior staff members from the other company. Written materials should be available in both English and Chinese simplified characters. In large meetings, the provision of visual materials is quite useful. Attention must be paid to the color arrangement in the visual materials.

In business negotiations, only the senior member of the negotiating team will speak. He or she will be designated as the spokesman for the introductory functions. Chinese negotiations are process-oriented, as the Chinese like to proceed with business only when they have confirmed that both parties are comfortable doing business with each other.

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