Monday, 5 December 2011

chines etique



Throughout most of China's long history, the relationship between people in all classes were based on carefully prescribed forms of behavior that covered virtually every aspect of conduct - so much so and to such a degree that learning and following proper etiquette was one of the major facets of life. The higher one was on the social ladder, the more meticulous and demanding were the rules of etiquette.

The Chinese word for etiquette, li, which orginally meant "to sacrifice," refers to the fact that following legally sanctioned etiquette required extraordinary sacrifices, not to mention detailed knowledge of hundreds of correct forms of behavior. Training in this highly prescribed way of living was so thorough, so pervasive, that people were judged first, last, and sometimes always on how closely they followed these rules of behavior. Etiquette came to be equated not only with learning in general, but with culture and morality - even nationality and nationalism.

The Chinese eventually came to believe that their behavior was the only correct etiquette in the universe, that all who did not follow then same meticulous rules of conduct were uncivilized barbarians. Of course, the rules of etiquette in China today are no longer enforced by harsh feudal sanctions and they have been considerably relaxed, but they remain very important. There are still formalities, particularly in business and formal situations, that are ingrained in the behavior of the Chinese.

At meetings, for example, the leader of the group acts as spokesperson for the whole group. Whatever differences of opinion the members of the group may have are resolved beforehand or afterward. The American custom for everyone to speak out during meetings and for differences to be hashed out on the spot goes against the Chinese grain.

The Chinese attempt to control every aspect of meetings, from the first greetings and introductions, to the order of seating, the content of the discussions, and how they are conducted. This is not entirely a ploy to take and keep the advantage, although that is surely a primary aim. It is also to ensure that the meeting goes smoothly and that there are no surprises.
One of the essences of Chinese relationships that play a key role in meetings, negotiations, and ongoing relationships is that the basic relationship is not between individuals or people per se. It is between bureaucratic organizations, with all that this implies - meaning that the relationships are conducted on a higher, abstract level, with the individuals taking little or no personal responsibility.

This approach means that the individual Chinese businessperson or government official can never be pinned down personally, that he are she always has an out and can delay things, stop things, or do other things in the name of the organization, no matter how irrational or stupid they may appear to be to the outsider.

While foreign businesspeople on a high executive level generally have the authority to make decisions on the spot, to make changes in company policy - or at least in what the company will accept in particular situations - the Chinese either do not have such authority or will claim not to have it when it suits their purpose. Generally they must in fact refer the matter to their organization to get consensus agreement, or they use this as a way of gaining time and/or their own ends.

The Chinese negotiating techniques has been likened to both guerrilla warfare and psychological warfare - strike, retreat; strike, retreat; confuse the enemy, get them off guard, weaken their will, make them feel guilty for opposing you, make a "final offer" that is considerably below what they know is acceptable.

Unlike most foreign businesspeople, Chinese officials and managers have often had considerable experience in psychological tactics, in cross-examining and intimidating opponents. It is also typical Chinese behavior to withhold information, to reveal as little as possible about their own situation, putting the foreigner at a further disadvantage.

The use of the strike-retreat technique while opponents thrash about trying to defend themselves and mount a counterattack at the same time is apparently drawn from the same principle as the dai ji juan martial art. This is said to have been created by a priest after he watched a bird of prey attack a snake. In its attempt to strike the snake, the bird eventually wore itself down, made a mistake, and was nailed by the writhing reptile.

Of course, some of the rules of behaviour sanctioned in the Chinese system were common enough and benign. For example, during the early generations following the invention of eyeglasses in China it was considered exceptionally rude for a person wearing glasses to speak to someone without first removing the glasses. The Western parallel, of course, is removing one's hat before speaking to someone.

While the handshake is now a common form of greeting among most Chinese, the traditional greeting is to cup one's own hands (left over right), chest high, and raise them slightly while bowing. In earlier times when greeting someone of superior social standing, it was customary to raise the hands as high as the forehead and to execute a low bow.

When offering an object such as a gift of a drink to someone, as well as when receiving something from someone, it is polite to use both hands.

At hosted meals, it is the responsibility of the host - not waiters or servants - to see that the guests' drinking glasses are refilled. It is also mandatory in Chinese etiquette for the host to accompany each guest to the door when a meal or party ends. Ranking guests are normally accompanied all the way to their automobiles, and the host waits until they drive away before going back inside.

It is Chinese etiquette to say no when offered a drink, a meal, a gift, or a favor. It is up to you the host to politely persist, without being crude or rude.

In Chinese eitquette, there are prescribed manners for everyone at mealtimes, when in the presence of superiors, and when greeting and seeing guests off. One always accompanies guests to the entrance or to the upper floor elevators if they are leaving your office building. The host normally pushes the elevator button, then waits until his guests are in the elevator and the door closes before returning to his office.

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