As humorous as the translation blunder in the image below may be, the warning is worth noting as we consider training and development in China. Let's explore some common cultural facts about the Chinese and their expectations when it comes to training and development.
Test your knowledge of Chinese culture with the Fun-Fact questions below:
- What are the two primary spoken languages in China?
- What are the two written languages Chinese languages?
Quick Tips for Training & Development in China1:
- In many ways, China is still a hierarchical society and age is respected. The oldest person should be given deference by the younger ones in the group. If you're conducting a class with multiple trainers, the elder trainer should initiate the class.
- Internet censorship is common and may impede access to your online classrooms, so be sure to test this access in advance.
- Avoid scheduling classes during the lunar New Year. This is China's most important nationwide weeklong holiday.
- Truth is defined by one's personal feelings along with Communist beliefs.
- China is primarily a collectivist culture. Decisions are made by the leadership, and members must follow their lead.
- You must be punctual for both business and social meetings.
- The Chinese write the date with the year, then the month, then the day. For example, March 2, 2014, is written as 14.03.02.
- Receive a business card with two hands; review it carefully and set it down on the table in front of you. Do not write on it or put it in your wallet or pocket. That is considered rude.
- Dramatic hand movements or body language may be considered distracting to your audience, as they are uncommon in Chinese culture.
- In general, many Chinese people will find it difficult to say "no", as they don't want to disappoint you or lose face. Be sensitive to hints of difficulties, and make sure to set reasonable expectations. Deadlines are commonly regarded as flexible, so be clear in setting them, and allow buffer time as needed.
- Mandarin and Cantonese.
- Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese. While many business executives are fluent in English, give careful consideration to the benefits of localizing and translating your materials.
Developing Training & Development materials for use in China? Contact Jen Weaver with Carmazzi Global Solutions for a free consultation.
1Morrison, Terri, & Conaway, Wayne A. (2006). Kiss, bow, or shake hands (2nd ed.). Avon: Adams Media.