The British have an interesting mix of communication styles encompassing both understatement and direct communication. Many older businesspeople or those from the 'upper class' rely heavily upon formal use of established protocol. Most British are masters of understatement and do not use effusive language. If anything, they have a marked tendency to use ‘qualifiers’ such as 'perhaps', ‘possibly’ or 'it could be'.
When communicating with people they see as equal to themselves in rank or class, the British are direct, but modest. If communicating with someone they know well, their style may be more informal, although they will still be reserved.
Written communication follows strict rules of protocol. How a letter is closed varies depending upon how well the writer knows the recipient. Written communication is always addressed using the person's title and their surname. First names are not generally used in written communication, unless you know the person well.
E-mail is now much more widespread, however the communication style remains more formal, at least initially, than in many other countries. Most British will not use slang or abbreviations and will think negatively if your communication appears overly familiar.
The British can be quite formal and sometimes prefer to work with people and companies they know or who are known to their associates. The younger generation however is very different; they do not need long-standing personal relationships before they do business with people and do not require an intermediary to make business introductions. Nonetheless, networking and relationship building are often key to long-term business success.
Most British look for long-term relationships with people they do business with and will be cautious if you appear to be going after a quick deal.
If you plan to use an agenda, be sure to forward it to your British colleagues in sufficient time for them to review it and recommend any changes.
Punctuality is important in business situations. In most cases, the people you are meeting will be on time. Scots are extremely punctual. Call if you will be even 5 minutes later than agreed. Having said that, punctuality is often a matter of personal style and emergencies do arise. If you are kept waiting a few minutes, do not make an issue of it. Likewise, if you know that you will be late it is a good idea to telephone and offer your apologies.
How meetings are conducted is often determined by the composition of people attending:
If everyone is at the same level, there is generally a free flow of ideas and opinions.
If there is a senior ranking person in the room, that person will do most of the speaking.
In general, meetings will be rather formal:
Meetings always have a clearly defined purpose, which may include an agenda.
There will be a brief amount of small talk before getting down to the business at hand.
If you make a presentation, avoid making exaggerated claims.
Make certain your presentation and any materials provided appear professional and well thought out.
Be prepared to back up your claims with facts and figures. The British rely on facts, rather than emotions, to make decisions.
Maintain eye contact and a few feet of personal space.
After a meeting, send a letter summarizing what was decided and the next steps to be taken
Facts and Statistics
Location: Eastern Asia bordering Afghanistan 76 km, Bhutan 470 km, Burma 2,185 km, India 3,380 km, Kazakhstan 1,533 km, North Korea 1,416 km, Kyrgyzstan 858 km, Laos 423 km, Mongolia 4,677 km, Nepal 1,236 km, Pakistan 523 km, Russia (northeast) 3,605 km, Russia (northwest) 40 km, Tajikistan 414 km, Vietnam 1,281 km
Climate: extremely diverse; tropical in south to subarctic in north
Population: 1,298,847,624 (July 2004 est.)
Ethnic Make-up: Han Chinese 91.9%, Zhuang, Uygur, Hui, Yi, Tibetan, Miao, Manchu, Mongol, Buyi, Korean, and other nationalities 8.1%
Religions: Daoist (Taoist), Buddhist, Muslim 1%-2%, Christian 3%-4%
Government: Communist state
The Chinese Language
Chinese is a family of closely-related but mutually unintelligible languages. These languages are known variously as f¨¡ngy¨¢n (regional languages), dialects of Chinese or varieties of Chinese. In all over 1.2 billion people speak one or more varieties of Chinese. All varieties of Chinese belong to the Sino-Tibetan family of languages and each one has its own dialects and sub-dialects, which are more or less mutually intelligible.
Why not learn some useful Manadarin or Cantonese phrases before your visit?
Chinese Society & Culture
The Importance of "Face"
. The concept of 'face' roughly translates as 'honour', 'good reputation' or 'respect'. . There are four types of 'face': 1) Diu-mian-zi: this is when one's actions or deeds have been exposed to people. 2) Gei-mian-zi: involves the giving of face to others through showing respect. 3) Liu-mian-zi: this is developed by avoiding mistakes and showing wisdom in action. 4) Jiang-mian-zi: this is when face is increased through others, i.e. someone complementing you to an associate. . It is critical you avoid losing face or causing the loss of face at all times.
Confucianism is a system of behaviours and ethics that stress the obligations of people towards one another based upon their relationship. The basic tenets are based upon five different relationships:
. Ruler and subject . Husband and wife . Parents and children . Brothers and sisters . Friend and friend
Confucianism stresses duty, sincerity, loyalty, honour, filial piety, respect for age and seniority. Through maintaing harmonious relations as individuals, society itself becomes stable.