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Hong Kong - Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette

Business Etiquette and Protocol in Hong Kong

By Mark C. Rittmayer June 2, 2017 (updated)

Building Relationships & Communication

Although businesspeople in Hong Kong do not require long-standing personal relationships to do business, many businesses are family- owned, so personal relationships are an integral part of the enterprise. 
Once you have begun to work with a Hong Kong businessperson, it is important to maintain the relationship. 
When you first meet, expect a fair amount of small talk. Your Hong Kong colleagues will want to get to know you well enough that they are comfortable working with you. 
Do not be surprised if you are asked questions that might be considered extremely personal in your home country. 
The Hong Kong Chinese are generally sophisticated and cosmopolitan. 
They are quite familiar and comfortable with people from other countries.
Although some businesspeople may overlook poor behaviour for the sake of the business deal, many will not. 
The Hong Kong Chinese take a long-term view of business relationships. 
Hong Kong Chinese are direct communicators, although they also make use of non-verbal communication. 
In general, businesspeople are non- confrontational and will never overtly say no, so that they do not embarrass the other person. 
If someone sucks air through his/her teeth while you are speaking, it means that they are unhappy with what you have just said. If at all possible, try to re-state your position or modify your request, since you have made the other person extremely unhappy.
As in many Asian cultures, silence is a form of communication. 
Resist the urge to jump into the conversation if your Hong Kong business colleague remains silent for a minute.

Business Meetings & Negotiations

Appointments are necessary and should be made between 1 and 2 months in advance if you are travelling to Hong Kong. 
Avoid trying to schedule meetings during Chinese New Year (late January or early February) as many businesses close for a week during that time. 
You should arrive at meetings on time. 
If you are detained, telephone and advise the person you are meeting. 
There will be a period of small talk before getting down to business discussions. 
When meeting your Hong Kong business associates, allow the most senior person in your delegation to lead the group and be introduced first. 
Business negotiations happen at a slow pace. 
Avoid losing your temper or you will lose face and damage your relationship. 
Do not use high-pressure tactics. You might be out-maneuvered. 
Decisions are usually made at the top of the company. However, the pace of decision making is swifter than in other Asian countries. 
Your starting price should leave room for negotiation. Never offer your best price initially. 
Business is more price than quality driven. 
If you are signing a contract, the signing date may be determined by an astrologer or a feng shui practitioner.

Business Card Etiquette

Business cards are exchanged after the initial introductions. 
Have one side of your business card translated into Chinese, with the Chinese characters printed in gold, since it is an auspicious color. 
Business cards are exchanged using both hands. 
Hand your card so the typeface faces the recipient. 
Examine business cards carefully before putting them in a business card case. 
It is important to treat business cards with respect - never write on someone's card unless directed to do so. 
Your own business cards should be maintained in pristine condition. 
Make certain your business card includes your job title. This helps your Hong Kong business colleagues understand where you fit in your company's hierarchy.

Useful Information and Links about Hong Kong

Currency - the currency of Hong Kong is known as the Hong Kong Dollar (HKD).

Weather - visit Yahoo!'s up to date Weather for Hong Kong.

Translation Services - do you need a Chinese Translation Service?

News - check out all the latest Google news on Hong Kong.

Intercultural Know-how - use the Intercultural Business Communication tool for tips on doing business in Hong Kong.

Dialling Code - the international dialling code for Hong Kong is +852.

Management - for information about being a manager in Hong Kong visit the free Management in Hong Kong guide.

Time - Hong Kong is +8 hours GMT. Get the time in Hong Kong now.

History - read about the long and rich history of Hong Kong.

Hotels - for accomodation see Hong Kong Hotel.

Other printing services in Hong Kong

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