The Latest! Cultural Clues, Do’s and Taboos for Hong Kong
A Series of Cultural Tips for Countries from A to Z
Cultural Clues & Communication Guidelines for Hong Kong
It’s easy for business travelers to think that even when they travel, business is going to be done pretty much the same way it is at home. But that’s not always the case. Cultural differences can have a big impact on global business etiquette. That’s why it’s important for business travelers to make sure that they understand the culture of the country that they’re doing business in.
This article on cultural differences in Hong Kong and cultural travel tips for Hong Kong is a brief snapshot of conversation guidelines for Hong Kong tips for communicating in Hong Kong, and business strategies for Hong Kong to help with understanding the culture in Hong Kong. It’s important to keep in mind that as we homogenize as a ‘global culture’, cultural tendencies change and evolve as well. Awareness is the first step when it comes to cultural do’s and taboos for Hong Kong and tips for intercultural communication!
Cultural Tips for Hong Kong – including some valuable business travel tips for Hong Kong
Business cards are exchanged with both hands between the thumbs and forefingers.
When receiving a business card make a show of examining it for a few moments, and then carefully place it into your card case or on the table if you are seated at one.
In Hong Kong’s business culture, a person’s reputation and social standing rests on the concept of “saving face.” Causing embarrassment or loss of composure, even unintentionally, can be very damaging for business negotiations.
Emotional restraint is held in high esteem when dealing with people. One must maintain harmony within the group and avoid overt conflict.
The importance of reserve and tact should never be underestimated.
Age is revered. Respect and deference are directed from the young to the old, and the authority and responsibility from the old to the young.
Hierarchy is very important in Hong Kong’s business culture, regardless of the size or nature of the company. A clear line of authority is essential in any office, otherwise confusion and resentment will likely occur.
The Chinese can be exceptionally diplomatic in conversation. They will make an effort to ensure that no potentially insulting or embarrassing statements are made.
Do not offer opinions too freely and avoid inquiring about an individual’s specific plans like where he is going. The Chinese find the disclosure of excessive amounts of information impolite.
If you speak only English, understand that you may have difficulty interpreting the emotional content of a conversation in Mandarin or other Chinese languages. A simple, mundane Chinese conversation (especially in Cantonese) may sound like an argument to a Westerner.
Punctuality is very important in the Hong Kong business culture and is seen as a gesture of respect. Make every effort to be on time, even though Hong Kong’s congested streets can make this objective a challenge.
In keeping with Chinese custom, each person is obliged to apologize when necessary. For example, you should apologize profusely if you are late, even if it was not your fault. On the other hand, do not show anger or annoyance if your Hong Kong counterpart arrives late. You immediately put yourself at a disadvantage if you appear to be under a time constraint.
The Chinese will nod or bow slightly as an initial greeting. Handshakes are also popular, however it’s best to wait for your Chinese counterpart to initiate the gesture.
When bowing to a superior, you should bow more deeply and allow him or her to rise first.
Recognize and greet the most senior or elderly person in a group first, and politely inquire about his or her health.
Do not pat people on the shoulder or initiate any physical contact because this is not appreciated.
The Chinese may communicate in closer proximity than is common in the United States or other countries.
Although women may cross their legs, men should keep their feet on the floor. Place your hands in your lap while sitting.
Smiling is not as noticeable among the Chinese since there is a strong emphasis on repressing emotion.
Avoid any behavior that seems aggressive or loud because decorum is important in all aspects of life.
Use your whole hand rather than your index finger to point at something.
5 Key Conversation or Cultural Gesture Tips
Casual inquiries about health or business are considered polite conversation
Chinese history and architecture is always a good topic
Food is very important, and they enjoy discussing their delicacies
Culture and the Chinese traditions
Music and the arts are excellent topics
5 Key Conversation or Cultural Gesture Taboos
Anything that could cause loss of face or embarrassment
Avoid mentioning the political situation in China
Avoid discussing Taiwan
Anything negative about their food or dining habits
Overly specific or detailed inquiries that may be considered intrusive
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To learn more about the Dos and Taboos for different cultures, and the cultural communication styles for Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East – order Gayle Cotton’s bestselling book ‘SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication’ available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book
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Emmy Award Winner, Gayle Cotton, is the author of this blog and of the bestselling cross-cultural communication book ‘SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication’, which is available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book. She is President of Circles Of Excellence Inc. and a Professional Keynote Speaker. Contact Gayle if you need professional speakers for events, speakers on cultural diversity, conference speakers for events, or keynote speakers that specialize in cross-cultural training. She is a leader in the field of public speakers, motivational speakers, and international keynote speakers. She is among the best of female keynote speakers and women motivational speakers and is a ‘first choice’ request for international audiences!
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