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“Face” and Negotiations with Chinese Partners

Mai 09, 2018
If you want to become a global business player, there’s one market you don’t want to miss out on: China. Negotiating with Chinese people will sooner or later be on your agenda if you are expanding your business globally. Before you start negotiating with them, what should you know?

Saving face is very important for Chinese people; make sure you don’t let your Chinese partner lose face. The vast cultural differences can lead to situations where your partner is embarrassed without you even realizing it.

Generally speaking, rejection is considered as losing face, especially if done publicly. For example, rejecting a dinner invitation, turning down a drink you are being offered, or sending people of lower-rank than your partner to meet them can all be considered as impolite gestures, which could make your partner lose face. With that in mind, what is considered as gratifying to Chinese people?

Being able to accomplish something other people cannot. While this may be universally true, it applies in China both on an individual and on a national level: Chinese find pride in Chinese corporations merging with foreign giants (e.g. Geely and Volvo), or in Chinese technologies have a widespread impact on people (Alibaba, Wechat, etc.), and also in the heightened importance of China’s international presence.

When you praise your partners for achievements such as these, even if they aren’t directly linked to them, they will still notice and appreciate the gesture, making you appear as a friendly partner in the negotiations.

Face is only one of the most important topics in regards to negotiating with Chinese. If you want to learn more about this important subject, we highly recommend you to sign up our seminar, “How to Negotiate with Chinese Partners”, to be held on June 11th 2018 in Munich.