Meeting a new Chinese friend, but you don’t know how to react politely or in an appropriate way? Figuring out Chinese customs, manners or the etiquette can be hard for people who have never been to China or studied the culture. Some people even assume that Chinese customs are similar to other Asian countries, which is a huge mistake. Chinese people will be rather offended if you assume their culture is like any Asian culture, so be careful about this matter!
Want to learn more about Chinese gestures or behavior? Read the To Dos here below and keep them in mind when you meet Chinese people.
What to do when you meet a Chinese person
- Greet someone by giving him/her a handshake, perhaps even accompany it by a slight bend or nod of the head to show respect.
- Stand close to a Chinese friend when you talk to show politeness, trust and willingness to fit in.
- Hold your teacup with two hands while someone else fills it with tea to show appreciation.
- Avoid touching like hugging, backslapping, except for handshaking.
- Show appreciation or respect by using two hands when presenting your business card, book, paper, teacup… and make sure you accept the object with both hands.
- When given a business card, examine the card closely, as this card is considered a representation of the person, better not immediately put it in your wallet.
- Don’t point or use your finger to beckon someone, but place your palm down and move your fingers towards you. Use this with children, taxis or waiters but not with old people since to them it’s considered as very rude.
- Use the thumb and middle finger (North China) or index and middle finger (South China) to tap on the table as a sign of gratitude after being served for tea.
- Don’t hold up your fist as it’s considered as an obscene gesture.
- Show up at the exact time when you are invited to a party or dinner as an expression of respect.
- Don’t give too much attention to an object when you are visiting someone. They might feel forced to give it to you.
Keep these tips in mind when you’re meeting a new Chinese friend! Good luck!
Thai Binh Ho Van
Marketing Assistant intern