Culture Shock! China - A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette, 2nd Edition

(Kiana) #1
Socialising 67

The Chinese Hospitality
The author remembers being incredibly humbled by her first
invitation to dinner in a Chinese home. The family of three adults
had been assigned the attic of an old house. The door to the attic
took up one-third of the floor space. Beds around the outside of the
room took up the remainder of the space. It was only after the attic
door was closed that the small table could be moved into the middle
of the room to serve the meal on. In contrast to the space, the meal
that was served was fit for a palace. The effort, relative cost and intent
behind the meal has made it one of the best consumed by the author
anywhere in the world.

When invited to a home, be sure and bring a small
gift, usually a bottle of wine, some fruit or chocolates are
adequate to show your appreciation. Be punctual, when told
dinner will start at 7:00 pm, that means the food will be
ready to eat at that time. After the meal, stay alert to signals
that the visit is over. Most Chinese come, eat and leave
with precision.

Giving and Receiving Gifts

Chinese are very generous toward people that they aim to
build relationships with. It is customary for people who first
meet you in a business setting to give you a small gift, as a
token of their good intent. People who view you as a mentor
or seek your support will also give you a gift. For example,
in China when someone receives a promotion, a raise or a
significant business win, they invite the people that played
a role in that success out to a meal.
Gifts are typically given to guests at meetings, receptions
and banquets. Usually, they are given in a bag with other
materials. If you are presented a gift in person, receive the gift
from the giver with two hands. It is not mandatory that you
open the gift in front of them, although they will be delighted
if you do so and express your joy and appreciation.
Oftentimes if you are a business VIP, you may be expected
to take a photo with the gift and the giver. Position the gift
between the two of you so that you are both holding it, or
are shaking hands as if it was just exchanged, while looking
directly at the camera.

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