Key Business Etiquette You Can Put to Use in China

business Chinese Etiquette

It’s no secret that international businesses are always looking to hire people who can speak multiple languages. As the Chinese economy has grown rapidly over the past decades, more and more companies are eager to seek employees that can speak Mandarin Chinese. Additionally, international traders and entrepreneurs are increasingly doing business in China and having Mandarin Chinese skills is an enormous advantage for them.

However, it’s not just enough to speak Chinese and successfully increase your business potential in China. It’s also important to be able to operate successfully in the context of Chinese business culture. With ease of travel and remote conferencing becoming increasingly common with contacts in China, it’s now beneficial to learn some Mandarin business phrases.

Being able to communicate politely in Chinese will make an even better first impression than a firm handshake and a kind “hello! (你好 nǐ hǎo)”.

Let’s learn a few important phrases that will both endear you and help you be understood:

1. Some important expressions common about business meetings scheduling:
Qǐngwèn wǒmen de huìyì néng tíqián / tuīchí yī diǎn ma?
请问          我们   的  会议   能    提前 / 推迟  一  点   吗?
Could we make our meeting a bit earlier/later?

Bú hǎo yìsī, wǒmen yùyuē de nàtiān wǒ lìngwài yǒu yuē, wǒmen lìng yuē yī gè shíjiān hǎo ma?
不 好 意思, 我们    预约  的   那天   我  另外    有   约,  我们       另  约  一 个  时间   好   吗?
Unfortunately I am double booked on the day we arranged to meet. Would it be possible to make another date?

2. Whether the meeting is being conducted in Chinese, English or otherwise, a few expressions may help you out if you are having trouble understanding the language:
Qǐng nín shuō màn yī diǎn hǎo ma?
请     您   说     慢    一  点   好  吗?
Will you speak more slowly?

Qǐng nín dà shēng yī diǎn hǎo ma?
请     您   大    声   一  点   好  吗?
Will you speak up, please?

Qǐng nín chóng shuō yī biàn hǎo ma?
请     您     重      说   一  遍    好  吗?
Will you please repeat that?

Bùhǎoyìsi, wǒ méiyǒu tīng míngbái, kěyǐ qǐng nín zài jiěshì yī xià ma?
不好意思,我   没有     听    明白, 可以  请   您  再  解释  一 下 吗?
Excuse me. I didn’t get the point. Could you please explain more on this?

3. And of course, who doesn’t like good news? It’s always good to focus on the positive in business. You can begin some sentences introducing good news with:
Wǒmen hěn gāoxìng dézhī nǐ jiéhūn de xiāoxī!
我们      很    高兴     得知  你  结婚  的 消息!
We are pleased to learn of your marriage!

Gōngxǐ nín shēngzhí!
恭喜     您     升职!
Congratulations on your promotions!

When meeting and communicating with Chinese staff, it’s endearing and considerate to use at least some amount of Mandarin Chinese when in a conference call. Stick around with us for more helpful hints!

Key words:

请 (qǐng) means to ask, invite, or say “please”. It is a causative verb which can be used in formal or written Chinese.

解释 (jiěshì) is a verb that means to explain, expound, or interpret.


1. When making a request in business, you can ask or request politely by using:
A. 你好 (nǐ hǎo)
B. 恭喜您 (gōngxǐ nín)
C. 请问 (qǐng wèn)
D. 解释 (jiěshì)

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4 thoughts on “Key Business Etiquette You Can Put to Use in China”

    1. jennifer.zhu

      Hi mazhar. Thank you for your advice. We will try to update more useful words in the next days. (●’◡’●)

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