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Selecting and presenting an appropriate business gift

General Guidelines

Lavish gift giving was an important part of Chinese culture in the past. Today, official policy in Chinese business culture forbids giving gifts; this gesture is considered bribery, an illegal act in this country. Consequently, your gift may be declined.

In many organizations, however, attitudes surrounding gifts are beginning to relax. In any case, you will have to approach giving gifts with discretion, as outlined in the following points.

If you wish to give a gift to an individual, you must do it privately, in the context of friendship, not business.

The Chinese will decline a gift three times before finally accepting, so as not to appear greedy. You will have to continue to insist. Once the gift is accepted, express gratitude. You will be expected to go through the same routine if you are offered a gift.

In the presence of other people, never present a valuable gift to one person. This gesture will cause only embarrassment, and possibly even problems for the recipient, given the strict rules against bribery in Chinese business culture. Do not take any photograph of any gift giving unless it is a symbolic gift presented to the organization as a whole.

Giving a gift to the entire company, rather than an individual, can be acceptable in Chinese business culture as long as you adhere to the following rules:

All business negotiations should be concluded before gifts are exchanged.

Specify that the gift is from the company you represent. If you can, explain the meaning of the gift to the receiver.

Present the gift to the leader of the Chinese negotiating team.

Do not get anything that is obviously expensive, so that the company will not feel obliged to reciprocate.

Valuable gifts should be given to an individual only in private and strictly as a gesture of friendship.

Make sure that the gifts given to people of the same level of importance are equitable or of similar grade. Somehow, they may find out later, and the difference may lead to strains in your relationship.

Do not wrap a gift before arriving in China, as it may be unwrapped in Customs.

If possible, have your gifts wrapped in red paper, which is considered a lucky colour. Plain red paper is one of the few “safe” choices since a variety of meanings, many of which are negative, are attributed to colours in Chinese culture.

Pink and gold and silver are also acceptable colours for gift wrap. Wrapping in yellow paper with black writing is a gift given only to the dead. Also, do check the variations from region to region about colours.

Because colours have so many different meanings in this culture, your safest option is to entrust the task of gift-wrapping to a store or hotel that offers this service.

Doing business with the Chinese, Part II

29. Juli 2008 | Themen: Business English Stil & Etikette  | Kommentare lesen (0)| (0)

Konnten Sie alle Fragen in unserem kleinen Test aus Teil I des Tipps auf Anhieb richtig beantworten? Glückwunsch! Aber auch die Tipps des zweiten Teils sollten Sie sich dennoch nicht entgehen lassen.

Gift giving

If you are expecting Chinese visitors, be prepared for them to bring gifts, and have some gifts ready for them, but make sure you know the rules. Lavish gift giving was an important part of Chinese business culture in the past. Today, official policy in Chinese business culture sees giving and accepting gifts as bribery. But old habits die hard and in many organisations, gifts are still given. However, observe the following rules:

·Gifts are given after negotiations have been concluded.

·If you want to give a gift to an individual, do it privately and don't take a photograph of the visitor receiving the gift.

·The Chinese decline a gift three times before finally being persuaded to accept it. This is so as not to appear greedy. So if a Chinese visitor refuses a gift, offer it two more times. If you are offered a gift, play along and "refuse" to accept it two times.

·Never present a valuable gift to one person in front of other people.

·Always wrap gifts. Be careful to choose the right colour, because colours have many different associations in Chinese culture. Red is always a safe choice.

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At the meeting

·The seat in the centre of the table, facing the door, is reserved for the host. The most senior guest of honour sits to the host's left. Everyone else is seated in descending order of status.

·When you are offered a business card, accept it with both hands and read it before putting it on the table in front of you or in a card folder. Never put a business card in your pocket and never write on it in the presence of the visitor.

·Say "I'm pleased to meet you", or "ni hao", in Chinese.

·The Chinese state their last name first, then their given name, for example Liu Jianguo would be Mr Jiangou Liu.

·Don't use first names until you are asked to.

·In Chinese business, it is not customary to make and receive compliments. If you do make a compliment, expect to hear something like "not at all, it was nothing" rather than a direct "thank you".

The comfort zone

The comfort zone is the physical distance people like to keep from other people. This comfort zone varies from country to country. In Northern Europe we tend to keep further apart than people in Southern Europe. The Chinese comfort zone is slightly closer than ours. So, if you instinctively step back because you feel a Chinese visitor is standing too close to you, he or she might step closer again. But although they keep less distance from one another than we do, the Chinese do not like to be touched, especially by strangers. Do not hug, back-slap or put an arm round someone's shoulder.

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Habits to avoid

·Pointing at something with your index finger. Use your open hand.

·Using the index finger to call someone. The Chinese call someone over using the whole hand with fingers motioning downward, as if they were waving.

Some Chinese habits may seem unusual to you. In particular, the Chinese often slurp when eating. This is not a sign of bad manners but means that they appreciate the food. You must also be prepared for people speaking with their mouth full and for them smoking without asking for permission.


International Gift Etiquette - United States



·Presenting a gift is a thoughtful gesture, but it is not expected.

·Business gifts are often presented after the deal is closed. In most situations, gifts are usually unwrapped immediately and shown to all assembled.

·In many cases, the best gifts are those that come from your country.

·You may not receive a gift in return right away.

·During the Holiday season [late November through the first week of January], gifts are exchanged. For your business associates, you can give gifts such as useful items for the office, liquor or wine. Choose gifts with no religious connotations [i.e. don't buy Christmas ornaments], unless you are certain of the religious background of your associates. While Christmas is the dominant celebration, and is widely commercialized during this period, people may be celebrating many other holidays during this period [i.e. Hanukkah, Kwanzaa].

·Many stores and malls offer gift-wrapping services during the winter holidays.

·When you visit a home, it is not necessary to take a gift, although it is always appreciated. Flowers, a potted plant, or a bottle of wine are good gift choices.

·If you wish to give flowers, you can have them sent in advance to relieve your host or hostess from taking care of them when you arrive.

·If you stay in a U.S. home for a few days, a gift is appropriate. You may also write a thank-you note.

·Taking someone out for a meal or other entertainment is another popular gift.

·Gifts for women such as perfume or clothing are usually inappropriate. They are considered too personal.

·  Gifts for children are often a thoughtful and appreciated gesture, but take into account the values of the parents. Many parents would object to your giving a toy gun or a violent video game to their child.

How to Send Flowers the Right Way!

Step 1

The first thing you must do is consider all the times that sending flowers is essential. Secondly, you must further consider your timing in the delivery of the arrangement(s). Both elements are necessary in your ability to show grace and diplomacy in giving the "gift of flowers."

Step 2

One time when most of us usually send flowers is when someone becomes hospitalized. The suggestion here is not to send your flowers when the person is too ill or incapacitated to appreciate your gift. Flowers will do little to revive the "spirits" of a person just coming out from being "under."

Instead, send flowers prior to the operation or a week afterwards. Or, send a small bouquet or arrangement to the individual's address when he or she is due to return home.

By following the above course of action, your flowers won't arrive with everyone else's, which is directly after the operation.

Step 3

Consider the following: If sending flowers will cheer "sickly" individuals, think of the impact your flowers will make on healthier friends.

In the case where some of your healthier friends may also be substantially wealthier, rather than trying to "match" them in the "gift buying" area, use your "limited" resources to send them colorful arrangements from time to time.

In example, if they have sent you a lavish gift on an occasion such as Christmas, Wedding(s), Birthday(s), or whatever circumstance, return their thoughtful social gesture by sending them a lovely bouquet or arrangement of flowers.

Depending upon their generosity and your possible lack of "matching" resources, 1 delivery could arrive in spring, 1 in summer, another in autumn and yet another in winter. The autumn arrangement could celebrate autumn but be just in time for Thanksgiving; your winter arrangement could "applaud" the advent of winter, however, be delivered around Valentine's Day or Christmas; your spring arrangement could arrive around Easter and your summer arrangement might be delivered around the Fourth of July.

Depending on your friends and other circumstances, occasional delivery of flowers in appreciation of a thoughtful gift (well out of reach of your own "budgetary" price range) is always a graceful act.

Just don't get carried away with your "thankfulness." If you send too many bouquets, it may appear as "mocking" as opposed to appreciation. Send the bouquet or arrangement a week or so after receiving the gift, acknowledging the "givers" gift and thoughtful gesture.

A note card could simply read: "Thank you for your thoughtful gift."

Step 4

The following suggestion is for husbands who travel frequently or suitors or one of similar circumstance. Once your partner or spouse sees you off for your trip, have a box of flowers awaiting her arrival back home or schedule delivery for sometime that day.

Also, the thoughtful partner could wire flowers just prior to arriving home on the day he returns home. It is suggested to make your bouquet or arrangement somewhat symbolic of your return home. For instance, you could write something on the card like, "Three Cheers--I'll be Home to See You Tonight," if you have sent 3 lovely long-stemmed flowers.

The suggestion here is do one or the other--too much flower giving can be considered "overkill" and may "stifle" the relationship; whereas, one simple thoughtful gesture, timed appropriately, makes all the difference in the world.

Step 5

Women are at liberty to give flowers to men. Many men do not consider flowers purely a gift for women. Appropriate flowers for men include Carnations and Chrysanthemums. Less appropriate choices or selections to stay away from altogether for men include Sweetheart Roses and Baby's Breath.

If you and your companion have a "tiff," once you both have resolved the issue, why not send him a small bunch of flowers? You could send them privately, of course, as a good-natured gesture.

Step 6

Flower gifts do not need to be necessarily traditional in nature. The idea of not only sending flowers when least expected, but putting a "novel" twist to the gift giving is an ideal way of presenting floral gifts. The foll0wing are a few suggestions you may wish to use for special occasions.

"Brand" your girl with a floral arrangement made up of your own initials. Do this when you are well into the relationship and not at the beginning. This can be a dating anniversary gift and may be presented at an informal type of party. Kiddingly, let her know you are "branding" her as your girl. Make sure she has a good sense of humor. Additionally, do not give her the idea you consider her chattel. Just give it the sense that you are wanting her to wear your "pin," or give it the feel that you 2 are a "steady" item.

Another idea is a young girl could receive an "initial arrangement" based on the first initial of the recipient's first name and the first initial of her last name. Flowers such as Cornflowers, Dwarf Zinnias, Midget Dahlias, and Pom Pom Mums are flowers small enough to be part of such a design or arrangement.

You could send a Bon voyage Boat for a recipient heading abroad. Have the lower deck made with a solid mass of red carnations, with the upper deck made with white carnations. If you wish, add 2 smoke stacks with blue cornflowers to give your arrangement a "vintage feel." A talented florist should be able to construct the arrangement as described.

Step 7

Another consideration are arrangements for new mothers. How about putting together two identical vases, one large vase with big flowers and one tiny vase with miniature flowers in the same variety as the tall flowers or in the same color scheme? For example, gladioluses may be used as the big flowers with the tiny selection being the Midget Gladiolus.

Step 8

Always remember to give a girl flowers on the following occasions: graduation(s), proms, or a "deb" party.

It is suggested to give younger girls corsages made of smaller flowers. Avoid grand displays of blossoms. For example, Anthurium and Amaryllis appear too sophisticated.

Step 9

Depending on your mates temperament, if she really likes flowers, send some her way on New Year's Eve, Easter, Mother's Day, and Valentine's Day.

Step 10

Do not send funereal looking flowers to a funeral and do not send cut flowers as it may be difficult for a funeral home to readily supply an appropriate vase.

Your best bet is to send a spray. Additionally, have your florist write precisely what you have given him or her, on the back of your card.

Step 11

In conclusion, giving flowers is a matter of timing as well as inventiveness. Merely providing a nice display to the recipient is not the "total package."

Sending the gift of flowers with presentations that are original makes the difference in a floral gift that is ordinary to something that is--well, extraordinary.