An increasing number of businesses are moving into China due to the growth of the middle class. Doing business in this region requires a level of cultural awareness that many businesses don’t have. Did you know that if you’re not familiar with a specific culture, something as simple as giving a gift could quickly become disastrous?
When doing business in another country, it’s important to make sure that you have strategies and resources in place to help you overcome language barriers. However, in addition to language, the overall culture must be considered as well, and often that means becoming familiar with the meanings of colors and symbols within that culture.
In China, clocks, cranes, handkerchiefs, and the colors blue, black and white can all be associated with death. Therefore to give someone an engraved black desk clock in the U.S. might be seen as a gracious gesture, however in China it could be off-putting or even offensive.
Have you ever said or done something that an international client viewed as offensive based on their cultural context? How did you overcome the blunder and save the business relationship?
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