Interacting with Chinese


Scenarios for Americans Interacting with Chinese

第一章: 在不同的场合,怎样和中国人打交道 [How to Interact with Native Chinese in Various Situations]

Group A: Drew Burns , Matthew Garner , Ying Liu , James Wilson , Sunny Zong

Group B: He Yan ,Lin Zhi Chun ,Benjamin Lawson,Patrick Longenbaker ,Keith Cunningham

第二章:建立和维持关系 [Starting and Maintaining Relationships] Group Yi: Nate Saettel, Joshua Lotz, Yang Jia Group A: Zhong Xi, Jin Yi, Kate Szewcyz, Seth Warren, Ryan Zakes

Group Yi's Dialogues: The saga of two businessmen, Mr. Zhang and Mr. Wang

Group A's Dialogues

第三章:维持关系 [Maintaining a Relationship]

Group A: Drew Burns , James Wilson , Matthew Garner,Ying Liu

Group B: Patrick Longenbaker , Ho Yan, Zhichun Lin , Keith Cunningham, Ben Lawson

第四章:维持和发展关系 [Repairing Relationships]

Group A: Seth Warren , Kate Szewczyk, Zhong Xi, Jin Ye, Ryan Zakes

Group Yi: Joshua Lotz,Yang Jia ,Nate Saettel

Meeting New Co-workers p.2

[ 与单位里的新同事打招呼 ]

Meeting the New Boss p.4

[ 跟经理打招呼 ]

Meeting a High Level Official in his Office p.6

[ 与政府高官在办公室里见面 ]

Self Introduction p.8

[ 自我介绍 ]

Introducing Two Managers p.10

[ 介绍两个老板 ]

Introducing a Guest Speaker p.12

[ 在公司会议上介绍一位特邀演讲人 ]

Telling Your Friends You Must Leave Early p.14

[ 和你的好朋友道别 ]

Leaving Early at a Reception p.16

[ 告诉同事要提前走 ]



Drew Burns

Matthew Garner

Ying Liu

James Wilson

Sunny Zong

Meeting New Co-workers [ 与单位里的新同事打招呼 ]


Meeting new co-workers is generally the same as in America. However, it is important to point out that the key to establishing initial good rapport is to present yourself as dependent on the others. This is important for building mutual give-and-take dynamics and a strong team structure. You are not expected to automatically be capable of doing the job and, as in contrast to America, expected to present yourself that you are not fully capable yet. Deference is important as it shows respect. Chinese may not be as cordial as Americans in the beginning but will become more warm once they are familiar with you and have established trust.


Sample Dialogue

Time: 8:00 AM

Location: Company department office

Role: New comer and coworker-to-be in the same department

Audience: Other people in the office


  • Make a good impression as professional, courteous and willing to be a part of the company and the unit.

Background: Early in the morning, the new employee [ 马腾 ] reports for duty at the new company. The new employee comes to his new office and meets one of his coworkers. His manner of speaking is modest and humble. In China this is seen not so much as self-belittling but is used in order to establish an image of yourself as one of the team and as dependent on everyone else. The Coworker meets with this and expresses her willingness to help him if he had any problems. Express courtesy and willingness to learn. You do not want to come across as over-confident and knowing how to do everything already. You are expected to be dependent on everyone else. This helps to build rapport. (MG)



[ 马腾 ] :你好,我是来宣传部报到的(通常报到应该到人事部 / 处),我叫马腾。请问张部长在吗?

[ 喜凤 ] :哦,你就是马腾!欢迎欢迎!

[ 马腾 ] : 您好,您是。。。

[ 喜凤 ] :我叫喜凤,和你一样宣传部的。张部长今天临时有事,交待我向你介绍一下部门情况。 我们今天第一天上新系统,所以大家都比较忙。虽然这里工作节奏比较快,同事之间关系都很融洽。

[ 马腾 ] :我很高兴能加入我们公司。我刚来,有很多不懂的地方,以后少不了麻烦您,请多关照。

[ 喜凤 ] :没问题,工作中有什么不懂的地方,你可以向同事们请教,或者直接来找我。

[ 马腾 ] :好,谢谢您。

[ 喜凤 ] :张经部长说你主要负责和销售部的合作。我看。。。我先来给你介绍一下同事。这个房间里的人都是我们公司宣传部的,隔壁就是销售部。负责销售部的是王经理,待会儿我给你介绍。 (MG)



Dress code: Business professional. You want to establish a first impression of yourself as a professional, capable individual.

Use 您 instead of 你 when speaking to a higher ranking or senior employee . 您 implies a higher level of respect. Even though the two are at the same level, it is still more polite when you first meet someone.

It is important to be humble as it prevents any sort of potential negative feelings of competition from projecting yourself as better than others. ( 有很多不懂的地方,以后少不了麻烦您,请多关照。)

Meeting the New Boss [ 跟经理打招呼 ]


Meeting the boss in China is different from America in that the boss is at a higher social standing than regular employees and thus in the Chinese social hierarchical structure he is expected to be treated with more respect and deference. It is important not to make yourself out to be overconfident and over-capable. In the beginning, it is necessary to develop a dependence on everyone else so that there is potential development of a system of reciprocity. Humbleness and modesty are key as projecting yourself as better than other people can often leave others with a negative feeling and is bad for group harmony.


Sample Dialogue

Time: Morning of the first day in the new company

Location: Company marketing department


  • Newcomer
  • Manager of the marketing department


  • Make a good impression as professional, courteous, modest and willing to be a part of the company and the unit.

Background: New employee [ 马腾 ] is introduced to the department head who he will be closely working with in the new company. The boss has a higher social status within the company than you and therefore interactions must stress respect and humility by you, the worker, for the boss. Even if he acts cordial towards you it does not necessarily mean that the both of you are automatically friends; you must speak in a deferential way and establish yourself as dependent on him. (MG)



[ 喜凤 ] : 您早王经理,我想给您介绍一下 , 这位是新来到我们宣传部的马腾,他主要负责和您这边的合作。

[ 马腾 ] :您好,王经理。

[ 王 ] :哦,小马,你好。听说你是美国俄亥俄州立大学的高材生,小伙子好好干,大有前途。 (MG)

[ 马腾 ] :哪里,您过奖了!我刚来,有很多东西要学, 以后还请您多指教。

[ 王 ] :没问题,你有空可以找我们部门的小李了解一下情况,他业务很熟。

[ 马腾 ] :好,谢谢 您王经理。 (MG)



The meeting with the boss goes essentially the same as the meeting with the co-worker but respect for the boss and humility are more important. The status of the boss is higher than you and thus in the Chinese social hierarchy he is to be regarded with respect. ( 您好,王经理 .)

马腾 presented himself as humble and willing to learn. This is good for establishing an image as dependent on the higher level employees, which is what is seen as best for group harmony. ( 有很多东西要学, 以后还请您多指教 )

Dress code: Business professional. The rule is the same as in the United States, it is not possible to over-dress but it is possible to under-dress.

Use 您 instead of 你 when speaking to a higher ranking or senior employee. This is especially critical when making a first impression on a new boss or supervisor. 您 implies a higher level of respect. Because the status of the boss is higher than you he should be regarded in a deferential way. In any situation where the hierarchy is not clear, default to 您 . One can not be too respectful but in many situations can be not respectful enough. (MG)

Meeting a High Level Official [ 与政府高官在办公室里见面 ]


Because of China’s centralized political structure and its close links to the business sector, doing business in a region of China often involves interaction and dependence on the local government. Becoming good friends, or at least building contacts, with the local party officials can make getting things done much easier. The first meeting does not require much and it is best to steer away from specifics until you have a solid project and have established a give-and-take relationship; just make yourself known and establish contact. As in all cases, an air of deference is important as the local officials have a large say in local affairs and thus much power.


Sample Dialogue

Time: 9:00 AM

Location: The local municipal or provincial government administrative building


  • Individual meeting the high level official
  • High level official
  • High level official’s secretary


  • Make a good impression with the official; establish rapport and a relationship so that he will help you later. (MG)

Background: Having made an appointment ahead, [ 马腾 ] goes to secretary [ 黄 ]’s office to meet the official. Government officials are given high status within Chinese society for the power that they have. It is important to be deferential towards him, give him plenty of opportunities to talk and do not take up a lot of his time. Even if he is not busy you must imply that he is busy and important; the system of privilege in China is similar to certain aspects of American political and corporate culture, but more pronounced. Do not go directly to the official’s office, have his secretary introduce you. Officials are generally seen as more important than you and therefore it is not polite to speak directly to him before you have established rapport. Bring a gift, nothing to heavy or light; something that will make him remember you. This will come in handy when you need him to help with something in the future.



[ 秘书 ] :黄书记,您约的 AG 公司宣传部的马经理到了。

[ 黄 ] :叫他进来吧 …

[ 马腾 ] :黄书记 您好,我们公司秦总介绍我来的,我叫马腾。 (把名片交给他)

[ 黄 ] :哦,小马,坐吧。你今天找我有什么事?

[ 马腾 ] :没什么事,只是来 拜访一下。 中秋节快到了,来看望您以下以感谢您一直对我们工作的支持。我带了些月饼,放在您的秘书那儿了。

[ 黄 ] :这样可不好。。。

[ 马腾 ] :没什么, 只是一点心意。我知道您很忙,今天就 不多打扰了,我走了,以后再来看您。

[ 黄 ] :哦,问你们秦总好。

[ 马腾 ] :谢谢您。再见。



马腾 made an appointment to meet the official and had the secretary introduce him. ( 您约的 AG 公司宣传部的马经理到了 )

It is important to show up on time. Tardiness is looked down upon in China jut as it is in America.

If you do not know whether or not the official smokes or drinks, do not bring him alcohol or tobacco. This is self-explanatory.

Use the same level of respect as when speaking to a company director. Government officials in China have much power and authority and like to be treated as such.

黄书记 is able to speak informally to 马腾 because he is in a higher position of authority. Using the term 小马 establishes this as well as a designating a sort of cordial relationship.

Do not speak too fast and do not take up a lot of the official’s time ( 我知道您很忙,今天就不多打扰了,我走了 ). Not taking up too much of the official’s time is seen as an expression of respect and deference.

When leaving, 马腾 said that he will come back to see 黄书记 again, thus establishing potential for relation development. ( 以后再来看您 ) (MG)

Speak little and give the official plenty of opportunities to speak. This also is seen as a sign of deference.

Do not reach out to shake the official ’s hand, wait until he extends the handshake. Again, deference. (MG)

Self Introduction [ 自我介绍 ]


Although first impressions are very important in American culture, they are arguably more important in Chinese culture. With that in mind, a non-native of Chinese has a demanding job of not only making a good first impression but doing so in a culture that is not intuitive for him/her. You must not only be sure to include all the essential information that your audience would want to know (e.g., name, schooling, work-experience, perhaps country of origin), but must do so in a culturally appropriate and acceptable manner.

For starters, you will need to introduce your name. An English name can be given, but as it is hard for Americans to remember Chinese names, it is also hard for Chinese to remember English names; therefore if you have a Chinese name, be sure to give it (if lacking a Chinese name, quickly find someone trustworthy to give you one). Since the Chinese language includes countless homonyms, be sure to make clear which characters make up your Chinese name by using each character in a set phrase or saying, e.g., describing yourself as “outstanding soldier” as in the first script below. However, information selection is important. In the first script, the person could have chosen “bathroom” instead of “solider” to describe his last name making him an “outstanding bathroom.” While this would ensure the group remembering his name, it is not the type of impression you want to shoot for.


Sample Dialogue

Time: The First Day of the Quarter/ First Day at a New Job

Place: Classroom/ Meeting Room

Role: Yourself

Audience: Your Teacher and Classmates/ Your Boss and Co-Workers


To make a good impression of yourself with others and to establish a friendly relationship with them (JW)


Script (1):

大家好 !我叫卫杰,卫兵的卫,杰出的杰,所以我是个杰出的卫兵。我今年从威廉玛丽大学毕业。我的专业是东亚研究和中文。现在在俄亥俄州立大学读研究生,学中文。很高兴认识大家,谢谢。 (JW)


Script (2):

各位同学大家好,我的名字叫祝博恩。“祝“是“祝英台”的祝,“博”是“博士”的博,“恩“是“恩爱”的恩。我今年五月份从乔治华盛顿大学毕业,现在是俄 亥俄州立大学东亚语言文学系中文旗舰工程的研一新生。本科的时候我有两个专业,分别是中文和国际关系,并辅修德文。现在我的专业是中文,具体来说,是中国 政治。


我希望我可以通过这门课学到很多东西,也希望能够认识更多的朋友。我很高兴认识大家,也很期待跟大家一起合作,一起进步。 (DB)



Being humorous is a good way to but a crowd at ease and make a good impression, however, be cautious about humor in Chinese: it may not be as humorous to the Chinese as you may think. If you insist upon being humorous, be sure to check it over with a trustworthy native-Chinese speaker.

Feel free to describe your own good points; however do not become overly boastful as this will turn your audience off to you. Conversely, do not be too humble for this may make you appear sarcastic and just as unfavorable.

Be sure to smile while giving your introduction, but avoid using too many physical gestures as, to the Chinese eye, Americans often use excessive gestures.

Although a self-introduction seems to be off-the-cuff, it can and should be practiced many times so it comes out smooth and inviting. Remember to be sure to run it by a native speaker before giving it at work or school (if possible). (JW)

Introducing Two Managers [ 介绍两个老板 ]


Work and business relationships in China are often a complex web of long-standing personal friendships. These relationships are essential to accomplishing anything in the Chinese workplace, and managing relationships between superiors at one’s own company and one’s contacts at other companies is a valuable skill.

In this situation, a member of one company will try to establish a relationship between his boss and a member of a company with which his firm hopes to do business. It is up to the speaker to make the guest feel comfortable while visiting his company and give the two individuals a chance to feel comfortable with each other and establish a personal relationship that could evolve into a working relationship. (DB)


Sample Dialogue

Time: 4:00 PM

Place: The reception room of the host company’s office


  • Public relations officer
  • The host company’s manager
  • The guest company’s manager

Audience: Company personnel


  • The PR officer will introduce his/her manager to the guest company’s manager so as to establish a positive and cooperative relationship between the two companies.

Background: Director [ 王 ] is the home public relations manager, Director [ 张 ] is the guest manager.



[ 公关部经理 ] :张总,您好。我来介绍一下。这是我公司的老板,他叫王立宇。王总,这就是我昨天跟您提到的张瑞红,张总。张总这些年在美国成功举办了多次产品展销会。参加他的公司举办展销会的企业,产品在美国的销售额往往有大幅度的提高。

[ 王总 ] :噢,张总,久闻大名,久闻大名。不好意思让您久等了。我们公司这两天比较忙。

[ 张总 ] :幸会幸会(握手)。我很高兴有这个机会跟你们企业合作。我听陈经理说贵公司近几年在国内市场营销搞得不错,成就不小哇。

[ 王总 ] :哎,过奖过奖 。(看表)我看时间不早了。我在旁边(附近)的和平饭店预定了一桌酒席,我们边吃边聊,您看怎么样?

[ 张总 ] :行,谢谢招待。我们边吃边聊。 (DB)



Notice how the introducer says to his boss that he has already mentioned Zhang Zong to him earlier. (“这就是我昨天跟您提到的张瑞红”) This allows the guest to feel as though his counterpart already has some impression of him and he is not a stranger in the company. The introducer also points out Zhang Zong’s accomplishments at his company as he is introducing him. This is very important, because it will make the guest feel welcome, and as though he belongs. It is important that the introducer avoid extolling the virtues of his own boss, as it is not only unnecessary (the introducer should already be familiar with his bosses achievements), but it would also make the guest feel uncomfortable and make the host company look boastful.

Once the floor is yielded to the two upper-level individuals, they continue to downplay their own achievements and express admiration for what the other has accomplished. It is also important to note that they make sure to point out their eagerness to cooperate and work with the other in the future (“我很高兴有这个机会跟你们企业合作”) It is important to note that after Wang Zong and Zhang Zong begin speaking with each other, the introducer drops out of the conversation. If the introduction is successful and the two bosses manage to converse naturally, it is best for the introducer to stay out of the way and let the other two get to know each other. (DB)

Introducing a Guest Speaker [ 在公司会议上介绍一位特邀演讲人 ]


Introducing a guest speaker in China essentially follows the same pattern as in the United States. It is important to put the speaker on a pedestal as the best at what he does. It is important to introduce the topic of the speech so people know what they will be listening to. But it is important to let the speaker do most of the talking and make the introduction short and sweet.


Sample Dialogue

Time: Around 10:00 AM

Location: Company meeting room


  • Guest speaker
  • Person introducing the guest speaker
  • Audience: Company employees


  • Politely introduce the speaker, giving his background, reason for coming and introducing the topic of his speech.

Director [ 刘 ] is introducing the guest speaker [ 李白虎 ]. Introducing a guest speaker in China is must like introducing a speaker in America. It is important to tell the audience what (s)he is there to talk about, what his/her accomplishments are and stress that it is the company/group’s honor to have him take time out of his busy schedule to come and speak. Stress that (s)he is the best at what (s)he does and has lots of useful information to share, thus the audience will be willing to listen. (MG)



[ 刘总 ] : 好,时间差不多了,我们就开始吧。今天我们很荣幸地请到 MT 公司的首席宣传经理李白虎先生来给我们介绍一下宣传艺术在市场拓展中的作用。我们都知道在李经理的领导下 MT 公司只用了 3 年就占据了家具市场份额的 30% 。作为一名成功的经理人,李先生曾多次培训五百强企业的宣传人员。 今天,他在百忙之中特意抽出时间来我们公司传授市场宣传方面的先进经验,让我们以热烈的掌声欢迎李百虎李经理。(把麦克交给贵客, 鼓掌)

[ 李经理 ] :谢谢,大家好 … (MG)



Mr. Liu gained everyone’s attention and started the speech. ( 时间差不多了,我们就开始吧 )

President Liu expressed that the speaker is a very busy or important individual and that it is an honor to have him take time out of his busy schedule to come and speak. ( 他在百忙之中特意抽出时间来我们公司 ). This is seen as a sign of respect for the speaker.

Mr. Liu stated the topic of the speech and accomplishments that the speaker has made, or any policies that he has implemented if he is a government official. ( 我们都知道在李经理的领导下 MT 公司只用了 3 年就占据了家具市场份额的 30% 。作为一名成功的经理人 …). It is important to convince the audience that the speaker is the best for the job, which for them will make it more worthwhile to listen to him.

It is considered polite to take the guest speaker out to lunch after the speech. This is generally the same as in America.

Do not spend a very long time introducing the speaker. The people are there to hear him speak. (MG)

Telling Your Friends You Must Leave Early [ 和你的好朋友道别 ]


Although friendships in China are similar to those in the West, there are definite marked differences that one will very quickly encounter. In the proposed situation, for example, a non-native of Chinese needs to remember and pay attention to a few key points and differences in friend-to-friend interaction.

When leaving early, it is imperative to find a proper (realistic if not necessarily true) excuse for leaving. For not necessarily true excuses, ones like “my husband/wife is in the hospital” (if he/she is not) should be wholeheartedly avoided, but excuses like “my boyfriend/ girlfriend really needs to see me right now” are more acceptable. However, only give an excuse like this if no true one exists. (JW)


Sample Dialogue

Time: Dinner time

Place: Chinese restaurant


  • Host of the party
  • You and your friends

Audience: Your friends


  • To tell the host of the party you are leaving in a friendly way.
  • Be able to leave in time and be able to keep a good relationship with everyone at dinner.



[ 我 ] :(有人给我打电话)喂,嗯嗯嗯,好好我马上去,再见!(对主人和每个朋友说)不好意思我女朋友那儿有点急事,需要我马上过去,真不好意思。我得先走了,你们尽兴啊!

[ 主人 ]: 但我们还有些菜没有上来,你再坐坐吧,过会儿走也不迟

[ 我 ] :不好意思,真的马上得走,她正在那儿等我。

[ 主人 ] :那这样吧,你把一点菜打包带回去吃怎么样?

[ 我 ] :好 , 这次失陪了,下次找个时间我来请客

[ 朋友 ] :好的好的!我们 [ 就 ] 不送你了。 你慢走。路上当心啊。

[ 我 ] :好嘞,我们下次再聚 (JW)



After announcing your intention to leave, do not be surprised or offended by the hosts’ insistence on you staying for this is the Chinese custom. While in the rest you may hear one, if any, protests to your leaving early for a good reason, you may hear repeated ones from your Chinese host(s) and friends. Though we may view this as rude in the west (understandably so based on our cultural standards), this type of behavior is in fact a sign of hospitality on the part of the Chinese and is in fact impolite not to do. Because of this, you may have to insist over and over that you must leave (this will be made harder if you try to leave under the pretense of an improper, i.e., false and, more importantly, unrealistic, excuse). If your friends are of the drinking type, it is possible you may have to take “one-for-the-road” (whether you want to or not, at times).

If you know you will have to leave early, you can bypass much of this by simply informing the hosts as early as possible that you will have to depart prematurely.

If you do not know ahead of time, be sure to speak in a frank way and show your sincere apology to everyone in your party (of course, still apologize with heartfelt words when leaving early even if everyone knew you would). If possible, make another appointment with them (offering to treat is always a plus), which is quite common and appropriate between friends in China. (JW)

Leaving Early at a Reception [ 告诉同事要提前走 ]


Often one will need to leave a social engagement early for various reasons. It is important to provide the host with a clear and viable excuse in order to prevent him or her from feelings as though s/he has lost face. It is normal for a Chinese host to try and make guests stay when they are trying to leave, this is not an expression of stubbornness but an expression of being a gracious host. When possible, it is best to inform the host beforehand that one will be leaving early, and having a good excuse makes it easier to leave once that time comes. (DB)


Sample Dialogue

Time: Dinner time

Place: Cafeteria


  • The employee who is leaving ahead of time;
  • The host of the party;
  • Other employees attending the party

Audience: Other employees


  • To tell the host of the party and leave ahead of time in a friendly way.
  • To keep a good relationship with everyone at dinner.

Background: [ 小张 ] is an employee who tells [ 大郑 ] that he must leave early.



[ 小张 ] :大郑,不好意思,我要先走了。我答应了我老婆今天晚上带她去看她父母。

[ 大郑 ] :你多呆会儿吧,多吃点儿东西再走呗。

[ 其他同事 ] (同声) :嗯,时间还早呢。。。你别着急走啊。

[ 小张 ] :不好意思啊,真对不起。今天确实很尽兴,可是如果再不走的话就要迟了。咱们找时间再聚,我请客,怎么样?

[ 大郑 ] :好啊。咱们菜还是很多啊,最起码你得打包吧,带点儿东西回去(打包剩菜带给岳父母不合适)。宫保鸡丁儿挺好吃的,我给你装一点儿。

[ 小张 ] :你别这么客气。。。哦,好好。。。谢谢噢。你们慢慢儿吃吧,下周见。不好意思噢。

[ 大郑 ] :你慢走哈。 (DB)



Notice how Xiao Zhang makes his reason for leaving clear to Da Zheng right at the opening of the conversation, and being obligated to see one’s wife’s family is an excuse that most people would be able to understand. As noted above, Da heng, as a good Chinese host would, attempted to prevent Xiao Zhang from leaving right away, instead encouraging him to stay a little longer, a sentiment echoed by the others at the party.

Encountering resistance, Xiao Zhang handled the situation very well, using phrases to excuse himself and acknowledge that he was being a poor guest by leaving early (“不好意思”,“真对不起”) It is also important to note that he offered to make things up to everyone by treating the next time the group gathered. By making the point that he was interested in spending time with everyone again, Xiao Zhang made it clear he was leaving because of a real obligation and not just looking for an excuse to get away. By saying that he’d be late if he didn’t leave right away, he also made an effective counter to the host’s entreaties to stay longer. (DB)

How to Interact with Native Chinese in Various Situations

Section I: Greetings p.2

Section II: Self-Introduction p.6

Section III: Introducing People p.8

[ 与政府高官在办公室里见面 ]

Section IV: Leaving a Party Early p.11

Group B:

He Yan (Wrote Section III)

Lin ZhiChun (Wrote Section IV, Edited all Chinese dialogues)

Benjamin Lawson (Wrote Section II: Intro 2/Analysis, Wrote Conclusions section,

Edited Sec. III and IV English analyses, Organized final format)

Patrick Longenbaker (Wrote Section II: Intro 1/Analysis)

Keith Cunningham (Wrote Section I)



A greeting that is appropriate both culturally and in terms of a given situation is essential to beginning any social exchange. In contrast to America, where the social hierarchy is becoming increasingly flattened, Chinese society still recognizes clearly distinguished social strata. Because of this, one must take a person’s social status in relation to oneself into account when formulating a greeting. -KAC

One example of a situation where recognition of the social distance between the two participants is required is when a student addresses his or her professor. As is also the case in American culture, proper decorum dictates that one should make an appointment or visit during office hours. In the following exchange between a student and a professor, the student arrives at the professor’s office outside of office hours to ask about an assignment:


Example Dialogue 1

Time: Afternoon (outside of office hours)

Place: Professor’s office

Audience: Student, professor, and anyone within the office

Roles: Professor Gao

Kang Huineng, a student


學生 : 高教授 , 您有時間嗎 ?

教授 : 有。請進。

學生 : 我叫康輝能 , 选了您的文學課。我有一個問題。教学大纲上說我們得寫一篇論文 , 可是沒有说要什么时候交。

教授 : 期末考試的那一天交。我过几天会跟你們說明詳細內容(论文的具体要求)。還有別的問題嗎 ?

學生 : 沒有啦。

教授 : 我还有課 , 要先走了。如果你有別的問題 , 可以再来問我。

學生 : 謝謝您。 -KAC



While Americans may address their professors as “Professor” or “Doctor” depending on the organizational culture of their department, Chinese further differentiate among full professors ( 教授 ), assistant professors ( 副教授 ), and lecturers ( 讲师 ). In the example dialogue above, the student first inquired whether or not the professor had time to speak since he arrived unexpectedly. The student also spoke and acted deferentially with respect to the professor’s higher social status ( using 您) . When the professor gave him permission to enter, the student first introduced himself and stated his business. The self-introduction is necessary because professors and students often have limited interaction, especially in large lecture classes, and so the professor should not be expected to know who a particular student is right away. At the conclusion of the exchange, the professor expressed his willingness to answer any future questions the student may have, making the student feel welcome and establishing the professor’s dependability. -KAC


  • Check your syllabus and arrange to meet your professor during scheduled office hours to avoid potentially disrupting him/her.
  • Introduce yourself if you have not spoken directly to the professor before


  • Arrive at your leisure and expect the professor to drop everything to speak to you


Meeting a New Coworker

A new employee meeting a colleague is an example of a situation with a less pronounced difference in social hierarchy. In China, a new employee should convey his or her willingness to integrate into the group; the other employees should express their eagerness to help the new employee integrate. The following is a possible scenario, in which a new employee is greeted by a colleague in the office midway through his first day. - KAC


Example Dialogue 2

Time: Afternoon

Place: In the office coffee room

Audience: New employee, veteran employee, and any employees within the office

Roles: Mr. Zhang, a new employee

Mr. Li, a veteran employee


A: 你是新來的同事嗎 ?

B: 是。我叫張某人。您是。。。

A: 我叫李某人。

B: 您好 , 您好。 < 握手 >

A: 你的第一天过的怎麼樣 ? 还适应吗?

B: 还好。我很高興能和你們一起工作。

A: 我也一样。如果需要任何幫助 , 可以来找我。

B: 謝謝 !




In the above script, the veteran employee initiates contact with the new employee. If a veteran employee or supervisor takes the initiative to introduce him or herself to the new employee, this can help to make the new employee feel more comfortable than if he or she were made to introduce him or herself. After the new employee introduces himself, he asks for his new coworker’s name by saying “ 您是。。。 ”. He trails off without saying “ 您是谁 ” because it would sound too direct. When the employees shake hands, they do not use any phrases such as “ 我很高兴认识您 ” that are frequently encountered in elementary Chinese classes because Chinese in actuality seldom use it or equivalent expressions. Chinese express their pleasure for meeting someone with a handshake and warm greeting rather than using stock phrases. As is the case in this dialogue, it is common for a veteran employee to ask a new employee how they are adapting to their new environment, and to tell them to feel free to come to them if they require any assistance. This is a means of expressing interest in the employee’s well-being and establishing the veteran employee’s dependability and willingness to cooperate.



  • Take the initiative to introduce yourself to the new employee, especially if you are a manager
  • Tell the new employee that you would be happy to answer any questions he or she may have
  • Ask how the new employee likes his or her new position, even though they will almost invariably answer that they like it
  • Ask open-ended questions to allow the employee to volunteer information about his or her background.


  • Wait for the new employee to introduce him or herself to you
  • Continue working on something else while you are talking to the new employee

Section II: Self-Introduction

Introduction 1

Time: Afternoon

Place: At a company lunch

Roles: A new coworker introducing himself

Audience: New Chinese coworkers and subordinate employees

各位经理,各位同事,下午好!我的英文名字叫 Wally Peters, 中文名字是王朋,国王的王,朋友的朋。我是美国人,来自俄亥俄州,毕业于俄亥俄州立大学,国际贸易专业。我是麦当劳的美国营销部门经理,被派到北京来负责 开发一个关于奥运会的营销项目。这是我第二次来北京,不过对这里还不太熟悉。因此我希望得到大家的帮助,希望以后我们合作愉快。 (PL)



In this situation, an American businessman in China is greeting his new coworkers. Like personal introductions in English, the main objective of the speaker is to make himself known and memorable to his audience. For this reason, he mentions some relevant, personal information, including his birthplace and his alma mater. He also states his purpose for being where he is, and he displays his optimism about the future, both of which are valuable points for any introduction.

The central difference between greeting a group of Chinese rather than Americans is that the individual should stress his dependency on the new organization, rather than his readiness to standout and make himself known. Thus, in a Chinese greeting, the qualities of humility and a willingness to become part of the group should be highlighted. The manager in this scenario accomplishes this task by emphasizing that he needs the group to help him become acclimated to Beijing. An employee addressing his superiors could more directly ask for help from his coworkers with a phrase such as “ 请多关照。”


Introduction 2

Time: Daytime

Place: A college classroom

Role: Li You, a new college student

Audience: Fellow classmates

大家好。 我的名字叫李友, 李白的李, 友谊的友。 我是美国人,毕业于佛罗里达大学生物专业。 这是我第一次来到中国。 我想要提高自己的汉语水平以及更多地了解中国文化。 很高兴认识大家, 希望跟各位能够成为好朋友。 谢谢大家。 (BL)



The setting of this introduction is more informal than that of Introduction 1. Therefore, the speaker does not need to focus too heavily on making a lasting impression. In this situation, the speaker’s goal is to appear friendly to his or her new classmates. One key point to note in this introduction is the use of 李白 to explain the student’s family name. 李白 was the name of a very famous Chinese poet, so an American’s fellow Chinese classmates would most likely be impressed by this demonstration of knowledge of their culture. Some other key points to remember are: clearly say your name, give a little piece of information about yourself and express an eagerness to get to know everyone better. In both Introductions 1 and 2, just as in all group introductions in China, it is crucial to express a willingness to be part of the group or team.


Section III: Introducing People

Networking is very important in both Chinese and American cultures, however it is more so in Chinese culture because a lot of transactions rely on having a good network, which will open more doors and make one’s business easier to conduct. Therefore, it is important to leave a good impression while being introduced to someone. In both cultures one should act on one’s best behavior and be courteous. When being introduced to a Chinese person, one should pay attention to the other person’s social status. In most cases, people tend to praise on each other’s past achievements or make other small talk. For an example, in the following dialogue a new client is being introduced to an advertising manager by the advertising manager’s secretary in the office. (HY)


Example Dialogue 1

Time: 4:00 PM (almost time for people to get off of work)

Place: Business office

Audience: None

Roles: Ms. He, an executive in Motorola’s marketing department

Mr. Zhang, an executive at an advertising agency

Mr. Zhang’s secretary




顾客:李秘书您好。我叫何艳,是摩托罗拉产品推销部的负责人。我和张经理约了 在四点见面。





秘书:您需要喝点什么饮料吗 ? 咖啡 , 茶 , 还是果汁 ?

顾客:麻烦您给我一杯茶好吗 ? 谢谢。

秘书:好的 , 请稍等。


( 两分钟后 )…( HY)

秘书:不好意思何经理 , 让您久等了。这是我们张经理。张经理 , 这位是摩托罗拉产品推销部的何经理。何经理这次来是想找我们公司为他们的新产品设计一个广告。

经理:您好何经理。对不起让您久等了。突然来了个紧急电话 , 所以来晚了。

顾客:没关系 , 没关系。很高兴认识您张经理。很多人都介绍说贵公司设计的广告很有创意。对了 , 这是我的名片 , 这次的广告需要您帮忙设计了。

经理:没问题。这是我的名片 . 希望我们今后合作愉快。

秘书:何经理 , 时间也不早了。 如果您不介意的话 , 我们在餐厅定了一桌菜 , 可以到那边吃边谈。


秘书:请。 (HY)



It is interesting to note that a lot businesses are conducted over a meal in the Chinese culture, therefore, one should make lunch or dinner reservation prior to a meeting if one wants to do business or asking for another person’s help and be expected to share lunch or dinner if someone wants your help.

When introducing two people with same or similar social status, one can act more informal. For an example, when introducing a new student to fellow classmates after class, classmates should make the new students feel more welcome and comfortable in the new surrounding. (HY)


Example Dialogue 2

Time: Daytime

Place: Fu Dan University campus

Roles: Chen Yan, Shen Xiaoyun , and the Class President – Current students at Fu Dan University

Wang Jiaming – A new student at Fu Dan University



陈妍 / 沈晓云:你好,小王。欢迎到复旦大学。

王家明:你们好, 很高兴认识你们。






王家明:好的,谢谢。 (HY)



Instead of calling each other by the full name, Chinese people tend to call each other by “lao” or “xiao” plus the other person’s last name. Here “lao” means old and “xiao” means young. One uses “lao” when referring to someone who’s older or has more experiences than you and uses “xiao” when the other person is younger than you. By calling each other this way it makes people feel closer to each other. Since Chen Yan, Shen Xiaoyun, and Wang Jiaming are young college students, it’s more appropriate to refer to each other as Xiao Chen, Xiao Shen, and Xiao Wang. (HY)

Section IV: Leaving a Party Early

Unlike the style of saying goodbye at a party in America, leaving early from a party in China requires a reasonable excuse, which sometimes can be a make-up excuse. According to the Chinese tradition, the majority of parties for close friends will be held in the evening, lasting into the middle of the night. Generally speaking, the hosts expect all the guests to stay at the party until it ends. They often keep the highlight of the party, like food or a big surprise, until the party is almost over. This way, the party atmosphere will reach its climax just before the party ends. Therefore, a host may feel a little disappointed if a guest leaves before the big finale. In such situations, hosts always try their best to restrain guests from leaving early. Thus, guests who need to leave early should state the reason for their early departure. For example, the reason could be an emergency phone call which requires the guest’s immediate attention, or they might have to get up very early the next morning to do something important. Usually, the host will express that they want the guest to stay longer. The guest will then emphasize that they want to stay, but they can’t. The host will continue to ask the guest to stay longer, and the guest will kindly refuse again. At last, the host will agree. When saying goodbye to each other, the host may jokingly ask for compensation from the guest (if they are very close friends). The guest will probably then invite the host to a party so that the guest will be hosting in the future. In addition, if the party has a lot of people who are not very familiar with each other, guests do not need to say goodbye to everyone. If they all know each other very well, guests should tell everyone that they have to leave early.



Example Dialogue

Time: 10:00pm on Sunday night

Place: Afriend’s home

People: The host and the guest who are very close friends

Audience: Other party guests


客人 : 哎呀,已经有点晚了,我现在得走了。

主人 : 你太扫兴了啊!才刚开始玩儿没多久呢,好戏还在后头呀。

客人 : 我也没有办法呀,我想多玩会儿,但是明天一大早就有考试呢!

主人 : 反正你这个时间回去也复习不了多少内容了,干脆再呆会儿吧。

客人 : 其实也不是想回去复习。只是想今天晚上早点睡觉,以免明天考试时头脑


主人 : 哎,太遗憾了!好吧,你早点回去休息吧,下


客人 : 没问题!

主人 : 路上小心,祝你明天考出好成绩!加油!

客人 : 谢谢!等我考完了,回头也请你到我家来玩,再联系!晚安!

主人 : 一言为定哦!晚安! (LZC)



The example above occurs between two people who are very close friends, so their speaking style is not very formal. Therefore, when the guest wants to leave early, he tells the host directly without any prelude or formulae. Also, the host attempts to persuade the guest to stay by telling him that he may miss something good later. The guest has to emphasize that going to bed early is very important for the next morning’s exam. After several bouts between them, the host finally agrees to let the guest leave early, and jokingly asks for compensation. The guest promises he will not leave early again in the future and invites the host to come to guest’s house. Some useful phrases from the dialogue should be noted. For example, “ 好戏还在后头 ”indicates the climax of the party will occur near the end; “ 太遗憾了 ” means it is really a big pity that you cannot stay longer; “ 路上小心 ”is the equivalent of saying, “Be safe,” and is considered to be a nice gesture; “ 回头也请你到我家来玩儿 ,” the guest thanks the host and invites him to come to his party next time; “ 一言为定 ”means the promise of something, here indicating that guest has promised to host the next party. (LZC)

Starting and Maintaining Relationships


Group Yi: Nate Saettel, Joshua Lotz, Yang Jia

Group A: Zhong Xi, Jin Yi, Kate Szewcyz, Seth Warren, Ryan Zakes

Chinese 760 - Paper #2


Group Yi's Dialogues: The saga of two businessmen, Mr. Zhang and Mr. Wang

Scene #1: The initial phone call and invitation

Scene #2: Treating a potential business partner to dinner

Scene #3: Follow-up, thank you and future plans


Group A's Dialogues

  • Inviting and Responding to an Invitation
  • Participating in Social Rituals and Being a Guest/ Host
  • Creating a Social Situation: Meals and Banquets
  • Continuing the Interaction: Choosing Conversational & Small Talk Topics
  • Giving gifts and responding to gift giving
  • Following up a Promising Contact: Telephone etiquette, text messaging, and e-mail conventions
  • Continuing the Interaction: Thank you’s and staying in touch

Starting and maintaining relationships:

The saga of two businessmen, Mr. Zhang and Mr. Wang

Starting and maintaining cross-cultural relationships can sometimes be very difficult due to cultural differences. There are cultural rules and norms that must be followed in order to start off on the right foot in a newly formed relationship and also to properly maintain the new relationship through the first few delicate stages before a true, strong and lasting relationship can be formed. There are many reasons to form these types of relationships, for example, official governmental/diplomatic reasons, business reasons, or even personal reasons. (NS)

This paper is an analysis of a possible scenario in which two Chinese businessmen strive to begin and maintain a mutually beneficial business relationship. Mr. Zhang is the general manager at a Sino-American trade company. Mr. Wang is the general manager of an international clothing company. The two met several months ago at an international trade expo in Guangzhou. Mr. Zhang believes that starting a relationship with Mr. Wang (and through him a relationship between their two companies) would be beneficial to both, and so he contacts Mr. Wang. This paper analyses the beginning of the process these two men will undertake to build and maintain their relationship, including the initial phone call and invitation, a meeting/meal and a follow-up phone call. Through this analysis we hope to allow non-Chinese to better understand the process of forming a lasting and mutually beneficial relationship in the Chinese culture. (NS)

Situation #1: The initial phone call and invitation

Time: A few months after Mr. Zhang and Mr. Wang met at an international trade expo in

Guangzhou. Mr. Zhang calls Mr. Wang at 9 am.

Place: Mr. Wang is in a hotel in Beijing, and Zhang is in his office (the Beijing

Headquarters of a Sino-American trade company).

Roles: Mr. Zhang, General Manager of Hua-Mei Trade Company’s China branch

Mr. Wang, General Manager of Guangzhou International Clothing Company

Audience: None






















Mr. Zhang and Mr. Wang met several months earlier at an International Trade Expo in Guangzhou. Zhang is quite interested in the products Wang’s company produces. Yesterday, Wang came to Beijing to attend a meeting. Upon hearing this Zhang decided to take this opportunity to develop his relationship with Wang. He called Wang to invite him to dinner. Due to the fact that they are not close friends, he did not call Wang the day he arrived in Beijing. Wang would have many things to do, and would be very tired that day. He called Wang the following morning so that they could arrange their meeting for the evening. (YJ)

The following are some things that may work to your advantage in this sort of situation:

  1. Inviting guests who come from another place to dinner when they arrive is an excellent way to welcome them. Since Zhang’s company is in Beijing and Wang is from another city, it is very appropriate for Zhang to invite Wang to dinner. In China, if people from another place come to the place where you live, you are considered to be the host of that place “ 地主 (dìzhǔ)”. Normally, the host is supposed to invite the guests to dinner when the quests arrive. It is called “ 接风洗尘 (jiēfēngxǐchén)”. “ 接风洗尘 ” is a very good way to show a host’s consideration and to welcome to the guests. (YJ)
  2. Mentioning the time and/or place where you met is a good strategy to introduce yourself to a person who may have forgotten your name. Zhang and Wang are not close friends. They just met once in a trade expo. Therefore, when Zhang called Wang, he mentioned not only his name, but also the place where he met with Wang. In this way, Wang is reminded of their previous encounter. Their connection becomes closer in this way. (YJ)
  3. Small talk before the invitation is a necessity. Small talk is necessary in the beginning of Chinese phone conversations. If the two people are not very familiar with each other, small talk is especially important for their phone conversations. In this dialogue, Wang begins some small talk to show his respect for and interest in Zhang. Since he knows Zhang is a businessman, he asks whether Zhang’s business is going well. “ 生意还红火吧? (shēngyì hái hónghuo ba)” is a typical way to greet businesspeople. Zhang’s response “ 托您的福 (tuō nínde fú) ” or “Thank you for your blessing.” is a polite way to thank Mr. Wang’s for his interest, even if Mr. Wang has nothing to do with Zhang’s current business. (YJ)
  4. When inviting your guests, try to mention some highlights of your offer to interest them. You may recommend the new dishes, the cook or the environment of the restaurant. If you could find out the tastes and/or hobbies of the guests, it would be helpful to you in choosing the restaurant or other entertainment. In this dialogue, Wang mentions that the restaurant he chooses is unique in Beijing. (YJ)
  5. The host needs to show his willingness to provide a ride for the guests. When asking the guests whether they need a ride or not, make sure to use affirmative tone of voice, such as “ 我去接您吧? ”or “ 我派车去接您吧 ?” (YJ)
  6. The host needs to make sure he invites all the guests related to this interaction. In this dialogue, Zhang invites not only Mr. Wang, but also Ms. Ma, the sales manager of Mr. Wang’s company. (YJ)

The following are some things that one should avoid doing in this particular situation:

  1. When addressing yourself, do not use any title, such as “ 经理 ” or “ 总 ”. Use your full name or “ 小 ” or “ 老 ” plus last name to address yourself. (YJ)
  2. Do not use the guest’s full name or last name only to address them. Using a title is necessary, especially for people in higher positions. (YJ)
  3. Do not open the conversation without first adhering to the proper greetings and/or small talk. Appropriate small talk topics could be weather, family, health, business and so on. (YJ)
  4. It may be inappropriate for the guests to accept the host’s invitation immediately if the guests are not very familiar with the host. At the very least, the guests will need to use some polite phrases, for example, “ 怎么好意思让您破费 ”, “ 太麻烦您了 ” or “ 您太客气了 ”. After the host invites again, the guest can now accept the invitation with thanks. (YJ)

Situation #2: Treating a potential business partner to dinner

Treating people to dinner and being a good dinner host are two very important assets for those wishing to establish and maintain good business relationships in China. Likewise, learning to act appropriately as a guest is just as important. (JL)

In the scenario below, Mr. Zhang, the general manager of Hua-Mei Trade Company’s China branch, would like to invite Mr. Wang and Ms. Ma, general manager and sales manager, respectively, of Guangzhou International Clothing Company, to dinner at a restaurant in Beijing. Mr. Zhang and Mr. Wang met at the “ 广交会 ”in Guangzhou several months ago. Mr. Zhang believes that establishing a relationship between his company, which imports items from China to the US, and Mr. Wang’s company, which manufactures clothing, would be beneficial for both companies. Mr. Wang and his sales manager, Ms. Ma, are in Beijing for a meeting. They have already accepted a dinner invitation for this evening from Mr. Zhang, who lives in Beijing. (JL)

The intention of both parties is to establish a good rapport between the two companies to lay a foundation for future business endeavors. As this is their first meeting, managers from both companies are still on very polite terms with each other, as can be seen from the dialogue below. (JL)

There are several points to pay attention to when acting as either the guest or host at a dinner meeting in China. Most importantly, both parties should keep in mind the goal of their participation in the meeting and act accordingly. In the case of our meeting between Hua-Mei Co. and Guangzhou Clothing Co., the purpose of the meeting is to establish a good relationship between the managers of the two companies, essentially laying a foundation for future cooperation. As this is the first official meeting of the managers from the two companies, talking about the details of specific business deals should be avoided. Conversation should be aimed at establishing the good intentions of both parties and very vaguely wishing that the companies may successfully cooperate in the future. (JL)

As the dinner comes to a close, both parties should avoid the urge to give “closure” to the relationship, as would be expected in an American business environment. In China, the relationship is always open and continually evolving. If both parties have established good rapport with each other and expressed their intentions for future cooperation, the dinner can be considered a success. (JL)

Time: 6:00 pm

Place: A private room in a restaurant in Beijing (前门新开的一家御膳房)

Roles: Mr. Zhang, General Manager of Hua-Mei Trade Co.’s China branch; Mr. Li, Vice

President of Hua-Mei Trade Co.’s China branch; Mr. Wang, General Manager of

Guangzhou Int’l Clothing Co.; Ms. Ma, Sales Manager for Guangzhou Int’l

Clothing Co.

Audience: Waitress at restaurant



At the restaurant…



Mr. Zhang gestures to guests where to sit. Mr. Wang and Mr. Ma take their seats. Zhang and Li then take their seats.




The waitress arrives with a pot of tea.






A little while later, the food arrives.




A little while later…




A little while later…




It is getting late and Mr. Zhang sees that the guests are getting tired.











This dialogue is an example of a fairly successful first meeting between two companies wishing to cooperate in the future. The dinner begins by the host, Mr. Zhang, politely asking the guests to sit. As they are waiting for tea to be served, Mr. Zhang breaks the ice by talking about the restaurant where they are eating. By mentioning that the restaurant has a new chef and that there are several new dishes with authentic Beijing flavor, the host shows that he has taken the extra effort to select a restaurant with dishes that Mr. Wang and Ms. Ma would not normally be able to sample in their native Guangzhou. (JL)

After the waitress arrives with tea, Mr. Zhang engages Mr. Wang in conversation by complimenting his appreciation of tea. By saying “ 听说王总对茶特别有研究,您看这儿的普洱怎么样? ” he not only succeeds in appropriately complimenting his interlocutor, but also invites him and the others at the table to sample the tea that has just arrived. Mr. Wang appropriately deflects the compliment, using the phrase “ 哪里,我只是略知一二 ,” and then continues on by complimenting the flavor of the tea and expressing his delight that Mr. Zhang is also a connoisseur of tea. (JL)

In response, Mr. Zhang deflects this compliment by announcing that their company’s Mr. Li is more of a tea connoisseur than himself. Mr. Li responds by deflecting the compliment, saying “ 哪里,我只是一般爱好 ,” and then changing the focus of the conversation from himself to the tea itself by telling the story of where it came from. The fact that Mr. Li has personally brought such rare and expensive tea to share with Mr. Wang and Ms. Ma at this dinner meeting further expresses the good intention of Mr. Li’s company to establish a good relationship with Mr. Zhang’s company. After mentioning this, Mr. Li finishes up by once again complimenting Mr. Wang’s appreciation of tea. (JL)

Looking at this section of dialogue about tea, a very distinct pattern can be seen. This pattern is a cycle of reciprocal compliment giving and deflection: Mr. Zhang compliments Mr. Wang. Mr. Wang deflects the compliment and reciprocates with a compliment to Mr. Zhang. Mr. Zhang deflects this compliment and shifts the focus away from him by complimenting Mr. Li. Mr. Li deflects the compliment and shifts the focus away from him by talking about the tea itself and finally once again complimenting Mr. Wang. This pattern of receiving and reciprocating compliments is very common in China and is a behavior that should be learned and adopted by students of Chinese seeking to engage in natural interactions with Chinese speakers. (JL)

After the food arrives, Mr. Zhang toasts Mr. Wang and Ms. La, saying that it is a rare opportunity for them to come to Beijing and that he would like to “wash the dust” for them (给你们洗尘) . This is an expression meaning “to have a dinner to greet a guest from afar,” and appropriate in this case since Mr. Wang and Ms. Ma have come all the way from Guangzhou. In this instance, the two guests politely accept the toast by saying 谢谢 “thank you.” (JL)

A little while later, Mr. Zhang once again toasts Mr. Wang and Ms. Li, this time by saying that they are “outstanding people” (翘楚) in the clothing industry and he hopes there will be many opportunities for cooperation in the future. Notice that this simple expression of his hope for future cooperation is the most detailed mention of any potential businesses agreement that Mr. Zhang will make all evening. This is fitting with his goal—to make a good impression and open the door for future cooperation—and to discuss specific details of their business partnership, as many American businesspeople might be tempted to do, would certainly be out of place at this first meeting between the two companies. (JL)

The final two toasts are made by Mr. Wang and Ms. Ma, respectively. Mr. Wang thanks Mr. Zhang and Mr. Li for their warm reception and says he is “borrowing the opportunity” (借花献佛) to toast them back. “ 借花献佛 ” is a useful phrase for guests at a dinner who would like to politely reciprocate the toasts made by the host. Finally, Ms. Ma toasts the two hosts, saying that their alcohol tolerance is remarkably high (海量) and thanking them again for their warm reception. Mr. Zhang deflects the compliment by responding that Ms. Ma is by no means inferior to the men at the table (马经理是巾帼不让须眉), a phrase meant as a compliment to Ms. Ma. (JL)

The dinner ends with expressions of gratitude by both parties: Mr. Zhang, for the guests’ attendance; and Mr. Wang for the host’s warm reception. No attempt is made by either party to establish ‘closure’ or schedule an exact time for their next meeting. The relationship is merely left ‘open,’ which from the Chinese point of view is a good thing, meaning that the door is now ‘open’ for future partnerships between the two companies. (JL)

Situation #3: Follow-up, thank you and future plans

Time: Day after dinner meeting and day before Mr. Wang leaves Beijing

Place: On the phone, Mr. Zhang in his office and Mr. Wang in his hotel

Roles: Mr. Zhang, Mr. Wang

Audience: None














们好好尽尽做主人的责任。王总,就这么说定了吧,今天下午 6 点,我去酒店


王:张总的盛情难却啊,好的,那就今天下午 6 点见吧!但下次您到广州我一定要好好回请您 !





After being invited and attending a meal or banquet it is customary to follow-up with a call, a note or a visit in order to properly express your gratitude to the host. This dialogue demonstrates how Mr. Wang calls the following day to thank Mr. Zhang for his invitation and kindness. It is possible that the host call the guest to thank him/her for coming and his/her participation; however it is always necessary and very important for the guest to follow-up and thank the host. (NS)

At this point in their relationship (only the fourth time communicating) they are both still relatively formal and avoid using familiar terms of address for each other. Mr. Wang uses Mr. Zhang’s title and still introduces himself first with his company’s name. After becoming more familiar over time, they may begin to use more familiar terms of address such as “ 老 __” and “ 小 __.” They also might drop the use of the company name to identify themselves if they speak often enough. (NS)

Mr. Wang thanks Mr. Zhang for the previous evening and Mr. Zhang uses phrases to deflect Mr. Wang’s thanks such as “ 哪里 ”, and “ 我只是聊表一下地主之谊,招待不周的地方还请多多包涵 ”. In Chinese culture it would not be appropriate for the host to simply reply with “you’re welcome.” It is better to make a show of the idea that the meal/banquet was inadequate. It is better to be humble and apologetic in response. (NS)

After the pleasantries Mr. Wang takes the initiative to ask Mr. Zhang for a follow-up meeting, in this case another meal before he must return to Guangzhou to attend to business matters. This is an excellent way to continue the relationship and at the same time return the favor of having been treated the night before. However, in this scenario Mr. Zhang quickly reverses the situation and invites Mr. Wang once again. He still sees Mr. Wang as guest since he is visiting in Beijing. No matter what the outcome, the most important thing is creating another opportunity to meet and strengthen the relationship. (NS)

After it is settled that they will be meeting again, Mr. Zhang sets a time and meeting place. In this case, he will come to pick up Mr. Wang and his colleague. This is appropriate since Mr. Wang is only a guest in Beijing and may not know his way around and it may be inconvenient to travel by public transportation. (NS) Even if he takes a taxi, as a manager of his status probably would, Mr. Zhang arranging to pick up Mr. Wang avoids making Mr. Wang pay for a taxi for and ensures that he will not get lost or arrive late due to his unfamiliarity with the city. (JL) If possible it is always better to have transportation arranged for your guest, especially if they are in an unfamiliar place. (NS)

Being aware of the expectations in these kinds of situations will make starting and maintaining a relationship in Chinese culture much easier, much more convenient and much more successful. It is important to follow a kind of standard routine in order to make your Chinese counterpart more comfortable and also to make him/her feel that you can be comfortable and successful in Chinese culture. (NS)

Inviting and Responding to an Invitation


In China, inviting a business guest to certain activity (dinner or other entertainment activities) is a very important part in building successfully business relationship. Dinner is, for Chinese, the most common way of such communication. However, other recreations such as karaoke and golf are getting popular among businessmen of urban cities. People do not necessarily talk business; however, the communication and a close relationship developed on the dinner table or in the golf course are very helpful in enhancing mutual cooperation. In the following example, Mao and Su has met once at the party of last week; they made acquaintance and found the potential opportunity of cooperation. A week later, Mao calls Su to inviter her to dinner. (ZX)


Points to remember:

  • Ways: inviting a business guest is usually through telephone or cell phone.
  • The date of invitation: it is crucial to handle the day of invitation. Within one week is usually the most suitable way. However, when inviting a high-rank guest who might have always a full schedule, the inviter better inform the guest in advance of two weeks or one month before the scheduled activity.
  • In most cases, a personal invitation is appropriate. In case of high-rank person whose schedule goes to the secretary, contact the secretary first.
  • Invitation should sound natural and sincere. It would be a good idea to get to know the guest’s hobby/interest before making the invitation.
  • Be sure to settle with the guest the exact time, place, and way of arriving at the locus of appointment. Chinese would like to show their hospitality by offering a ride to escort the guests to the destination. 

6 . When guest declines an invitation, he/she must sound polite: first express the regret and then give a appropriate reason, which may not necessarily be detail but must be convincing. And usually the guest should express the will to make the appointment in the future.

7: When declined, the inviter should express regret as well as understanding. It is flexible to make adjustment or just leave it open, but coercing should be avoided. (ZX)



Time: Monday 10:00 AM

Place: On the telephone

Roles: inviter Mao Xiaodong, manager of ABC Co.; the invited Su Xinyue, manager of XYZ Co.

Audience: none











a. To accept:


毛:哪里哪里。周六晚上 7 点,您看有时间吗?




毛:恩。这么着,也成!那么就周六晚上 7 点,期待您大驾光临了啊。





b. to decline:






Since Mao has met Su before and knew she is from Sichuan, his invitation to a Sichuan restaurant sounds more natural and sincere to Su. Although Su has the means to get to the destination, he offers to escort the guest, which shows the consideration on the part of an inviter. When Su decline the invitation, she gives an appropriate excuse as well as appreciation and gratitude to the inviter. (ZX)

Participating in Social Rituals and Being a Guest/ Host


In China, meals provide an opportunity for a wide variety of social interactions. Contexts vary from a casual meal at a friend’s house to a banquet with co-workers providing an environment for business exchange. Meals in China in general present a context in which people can form and strengthen relationships. Thus, following the acceptable social standards is an important part in being a successful participant in these social rituals. The following dialog addresses the roles of host and guest in a more casual setting involving friends/acquaintances.

(Kate Szewczyk)


Points to remember:

  1. In China, the process of inviting/being invited to a meal often takes the following order:
    1. Making arrangements: The host first must arrange a suitable time with the guest and inform the guest of the location. When inviting someone to dinner, the host should plan to eat around 6:30-7:00. Usually this is done by phone but can also be done in person. It is also common at this point to mention the reason for the invitation, i.e., a house-warming dinner, welcoming friends who are in-town, etc.
    2. Pre-meal dish selection: Chinese dishes are not chosen arbitrarily; particular dishes carry particular meaning and dishes are chosen for the occasion. For example, fish is usually served to guests because of its special meaning of surplus and abundance due to the similar pronunciations of 鱼 and 余 . This is particularly important on holidays and special occasions, but is also applicable when treating friends to dinner. The fish is placed in the center of the table for emphasis.
    3. Guest arrival/ greetings: The host should greet the guest at the door. Usually at this point, the host and guest participate in small talk. If it is the first time a guest has come to the host’s house, this also usually involves showing him/ her around the house. It also would involve introducing family members they haven’t yet met.
    4. Seating: The seating order at meals is set by conventional standard. The host and hostess sit at the heads of the table and if there is a guest of honor, he or she would sit next to the host. However, if the guest is senior in age and title, he/she may be asked to sit at the head of the table, facing the host.
    5. Drinking: Drinking is an important part of meals in Chinese society. Providing some kind of wine, beer, or spirits is considered as part of taking care of guests, and toasting the guests is a sign of respect. Thus, toasting is considered a must when hosting a meal. After the food is placed on the table before everyone begins eating, the host must toast the guests. Throughout the meal, after the hosts have toasted the guests, the guests should also toast the hosts in order to express good wishes for the future, as well as appreciation for the dinner invitation.
    6. Taking leave: Although either the host or the guest can politely end the meal, it is more common for the host to end it (unless the guest has a reason to leave early). Before leaving, the host should make one last toast with the guest. The host should show the guest out, which includes showing him/her to the car/ bus stop/ taxi, etc.
    7. “Thank you” call: After arriving at home, the guest should call the host to thank them for the meal and let them know that he or she arrived safely.

(Kate Szewczyk)


Dialog: (inviting friends to dinner)

Time: evening 6:30-9:00

Place: host’s house

Roles: host couple, 2 guests

Audience: none



(Monday afternoon, on the telephone)

毛小东 : 喂 ?

龙蟠 : 喂 ? 小东吗 ?

毛小东 : 是我。 你是那位 ?

龙蟠 : 我是龙蟠。

毛小东 : 哦 , 龙蟠 , 怎么样 ?

龙蟠 : 挺好的。我想问 , 你下周末有没有时间 ? 我家上星期刚刚搬到新房子 , 想请你跟吕秀玲来吃个饭。

毛小东 : 行。 你说什么时候?

龙蟠 : 看你方便吧。星期五晚上怎么样 ?

毛小东 : 行。 什么时候都可以 , 我最近不忙。

龙蟠 : 好 . 那我星期五下午六点左右开车去你家接你吧。

毛小东 : 不用了, 干嘛这么客气。

龙蟠 : 不麻烦。我正好回家经过你那儿。




(Friday 6:00 p.m. at 龙蟠 and 钟曦 ‘s new house.)

钟曦 : 请进 , 请进。

吕秀玲 : 我要不要换拖鞋 ?

龙蟠 : 拖鞋在那儿。

钟曦 : 小东 , 秀玲 , 好久不见。 你们最近怎么样 ?

吕秀玲 : 不错。你的房子真漂亮 !

(The guests hand 钟曦 a bottle of wine.)

钟曦 : 你们太客气了。

( 钟曦 puts the bottle aside.)


( 龙蟠 shows the two guests around the house.)

钟曦 : 你们先坐会儿。 饭快好了。 先喝杯茶。

(Guests sit on the couch.)

毛小东 : 听说你们公司快要搬到一座新办公楼。

(Guests participate in small talk…)

钟曦 : 好 , 饭来了。你们都饿了吧。快吃饭吧。

(Guests sit; The two hosts’ seats are at the ends of the table, and the guests sit in between. Hosts bring the food to the table.)

吕秀玲 : 这么多菜 !

龙蟠 : 行 , 我们先喝一杯酒吧。 欢迎你们来我们的新家。

(All four participants clink glasses and drink the wine.)

龙蟠 : 你的儿子是不是刚刚大学毕业了 ?

(Guests participate in small talk… 9:00 arrives.)

龙蟠 : 时间不早。

钟曦 : 对 , 时间真是过得很快。

龙蟠 : 好 , 我们再喝一杯把。 你们以后有机会再来我们的家玩儿。

(Everyone clinks glasses and drinks.)

钟曦 : 好 , 那你们早点儿回家吧。 外边很冷,担心点儿。

毛小东 : 还行。 我们家离这儿不远 , 坐三十路车两站就到了。

龙蟠 : 那我们送你们去车站吧。

吕秀玲 : 不用了,我们自己去就行了。

钟曦 : 不用客气。还是我们送你们去吧。

(Hosts walk the guests to the bus stop.)

钟曦 : 正好车来了。 你们快上吧。 以后见 !

(All participants: 再见 !)


(That evening after 吕秀玲 and 龙蟠 have arrived home.)

龙蟠 : 喂 ?

毛小东 : 龙蟠 . 我是毛小东。

龙蟠 : 小东 ! 到家了没 ?

毛小东 : 到了。 今晚玩得很开心。钟曦做的菜很好吃。

龙蟠 : 你们这么好的朋友 , 她当然要做你们爱吃的。

毛小东 : 下次我们请你们吃饭。

龙蟠 : 行 , 行。 以后再说吧。

毛小东 : 好 , 再见。

龙蟠 : 再见。

(Kate Szewczyk)



In China, meals can be a complicated process that involves different expectations depending on the occasion. Examples of occasions that would call for hosting a meal include weddings, house-warming, promotions, opening of a new business, particular mile-markers in a child’s age, etc. The example dialog here is for a more casual meal with friends; a formal meal is quite different and is dealt with in a different section of this manual.

It is the role of the host to take care of the guest. Thus phrases such as “ 多吃一点儿 ” are common, and the guests’ needs and expectations should always be considered throughout the process (choosing food, showing them out after the meal, etc.) The guest should show gratitude towards the host, praising the amount of food and the quality of the food, thus acknowledging the effort put in by the host in preparing the meal.

(Kate Szewczyk)

Creating a Social Situation: Meals and Banquets


In Chinese culture, having dinner is a very common way to establish or strengthen the relationship between friends or between business partners. According to Chinese tradition, people during meals get to know each other, and even discuss, negotiate and close deals. A host in China needs to pay attention to many details, so that the guest not only feels comfortable, but also trusts the host.

In the following dialogue, Mr. Zha and Ms. Su are inviting Mr. Mao and Ms. Zhong to dinner to thank them for helping with their new product promotion in China market. Mr. Zha comes from America, but he heard roast duck is one of the most famous foods in Beijing, so he invites Mr. Mao and Ms. Zhong to Quanjude roast duck restaurant for dinner. He sent his assistant Ms. Su to set up the time with the guests in advance. Now they all have arrived at the restaurant.

(Jin Ye)



Time: Sunday 6:30 PM

Place: Quanjude roast duck restaurant in Beijing

Roles: Host: Mr. Zha & Ms. Su; Guest: Mr. Mao & Ms. Zhong

Intention: to thank the guest for their help in business
















众人:干杯 !


毛:好,我们借花献佛( “ 借花献佛 ” 应由客人说),好事成双,也祝查总,苏小姐身体健康,公司业务蒸蒸日上,生意兴隆!干杯!



查:现在秋季天高气爽,鸭肉肥嫩,正是吃烤鸭的好时节。真有道是 “ 秋高鸭肥,笼中鸡胖 ” 啊。












( 9:00 PM )












(Jin Ye)


Important points:


The host needs to set up a time and place for dinner with the guests several days or over one week in advance, so that they will have time to schedule ahead. When reserving a table or private room in the restaurant, the host needs to make sure what kind of food the guest would like to eat. Is there any kind of food he would avoid or be allergic to? Sometimes these are from the observation during the interaction with the guest or heard from his friends, if you would like to try some seafood (like 粤菜 ) or spicy food (like 川菜 ), you can also ask the guest directly. The host should also know how many people are coming, and be sure to reserve parking spaces at the restaurant, so that it will be convenient for the guests to park, especially during busy hours. If the people invited all have drivers, then the host should make arrangements for them.



If there are primary and secondary hosts, and primary and subordinate guests, it has a special seating code in Chinese culture. Usually the hosts will be sitting opposite to each other, with the primary host facing the door. On his right hand is the seat for the primary guest and the left hand is subordinate guest. This is from the ancient belief that “higher level on the right side”.


Before the meal:

When all the guests have arrived, the host will invite them to the table. Before the meals are served there will be some tea and cold dishes prepared. While waiting for the hot food there is some conventional greetings between hosts and guests to warm up the atmosphere. Casual conversations or topics like culture, arts, sports, history, are good choices.


During the meal:

After the first or two hot dishes are served, the host can invite the primary guest to try the food. (“ 剪彩 ”) Proposing toasts are always a vital part in Chinese meal culture. In the first round the host should propose first to the guests by wishing them healthy or good luck in business. Everyone should empty the glass to show gratefulness and respect to the guests as well as the hosts. Later, the primary guest proposes to the host, and the secondary host proposes to the subordinate guests. Through all these interactions the relationship between hosts and guests is strengthened, and friendship and trust is conveyed.


For dinners between business partners, not quite like the way in western countries, Chinese people don’t talk in detail about business during dinner. Even though both hosts and guests realize the ultimate goal of the interaction is for doing the business deal, they barely mention business during the meal. Overall, the guest wants to make sure the dinner is proceeded in a friendly and relaxing way, and the guests are being treated with respect and thoughtfulness.


At the end of the meal:

When the dinner is about to finish, usually the host will propose the last toast for the ending with a greeting like “How’s the dinner?” or “Do you feel well about the dinner?” and the guest will show the gratitude for the invitation and considerate reception. (This glass the guest must finish.) To show gratitude, the guest will suggest to get together again. When the waiter or waitress is serving the fruit, the host can let drivers know to get prepared, like getting the car heated when in winter so that when the guest get into the car he will feel as comfortable as in the room. This kind of consideration in details will leave a good impression on your business partner or friend.



It is a good idea to prepare a gift for the guest to let him remember you and your company. A small gift with a company logo on it is a good one. Avoid choosing something too big or precious, especially after the first meeting. After walking to the car and saying goodbye to each other, the host should stay until the car is out of sight.

(Jin Ye)

Continuing the Interaction: Choosing Conversational & Small Talk Topics

Scene Breakdown:

In the following scene, two men, Mr. Wang and Mr. Zhang, come across each other on a regular business day and begin a short conversation. The scene starts with Mr. Wang greeting Mr. Zhang and saying it’s been awhile since the two last met. Mr. Zhang responds with an interjection of surprise ( 哦 ) and repeats that it’s been some time since their last meeting. He then comments on the unexpected nature of their encounter by employing the phrase, “ 真巧 ”, which functions much like the English phrase, “This is quite the surprise.” or, “What a surprise.” After that, he inquires into Mr. Wang’s well-being, thus initiating the small talk. Mr. Wang replies saying that he is well and work is busy. Mr. Zhang’s agrees and adds that everyone is busy making money. Mr. Wang continues the conversation by asking how Mr. Zhang has been and pointing out the appearance of some weight put on using the phrase, “ 你发福了 .” The use of this phrase implies that the listener is doing well financially and is able to eat more. Mr. Zhang dismisses the claim saying that he’s just been eating too much McDonald’s. He goes on to say that he’s fine and that his wife had a child two months earlier. Mr. Wang, surprised by the news, interjects and congratulates Mr. Zhang. He then asks about Mrs. Zhang’s condition. Mr. Zhang informs him that due to recent cold weather, his wife has caught a cold. Mr. Wang states that in times of such weather, one must take good care of oneself then continues to express his concern by asking whether or not Mrs. Zhang has taken medicine. Mr. Zhang tells him she has and thanks him for his concern. Mr. Wang responds saying there’s no need to thank him, and once again stresses taking care of oneself. At this point, Mr. Zhang brings up the fact that he has some matters to attend to and that he must be going. Before he leaves, he tells Mr. Wang to say hello to the rest of the Wang family for him. Just before the two depart, Mr. Wang extends an invitation for Mr. Zhang to stop by sometime. At the very end, Mr. Zhang neither declines nor accepts the offer saying that Mr. Wang is too polite and that he has to be on his way.

(Ryan Zakes)


Key Points:

When making small talk, avoid sensitive or offensive topics as bringing them up will likely cause discomfort. Topics that are acceptable as small talk include work, the weather, recent events, common interests, etc. If a third person (i.e., a relative or mutual friend) is brought up during conversation, it is common for Chinese to express their concern for that person by simply asking how they are doing. Very often, at the end of a conversation, Chinese will invite you to visit them sometime or go out to eat with them sometime. This invitation may or may not be authentic but is just a polite way of ending a conversation. It is best, when offered this invitation, to decline 2-3 times. If after that the invitation is still extended, then you may accept if you wish or provide a very good reason to decline one more time.

(Ryan Zakes)


Roles: Two acquaintances, Mr. Wang and Mr. Zhang

Time: 12:30; Mr. Zhang is returning to work from his lunch break

Place: On the sidewalk, outside of Mr. Zhang’s place of work

Audience: Pedestrians and any possible coworkers of either of the two men








张:没有没有,就是麦当劳吃得太多。我最近,还不错。妻子两个月前生了孩子 …










(Ryan Zakes)

Giving gifts and responding to gift giving


Giving gifts as well as responding to the gift giving is a very subtle issue in Chinese’s social network. Gift is usually used as a benefit, or what Chinese would call 人情 on part of the giver in a social situation especially dealing with a business partner. Usually, when being invited for the first time or for the junior/low ranking invited to the senior/high ranking officer’s place, gift giving is indispensable. In the following situation, Zha Rui is the director of a large Company, and Jin Ye is from a sub-ordinate branch of Zha’s Company. Jin may have a good chance to ask favor of Zha in future co-operation; the focus is mainly on giving gifts as well as responding to gift giving between two business partners.

Points to remember:

  • Nature and value of gift: again it highly depends on different situation. Material value is not the priority but should be taken into consideration. When the receiver is a business partner, a gift with logo is very suitable; appropriate amount of cigarette and liquor are safe enough in most situations. Also the giver should be very careful when the gift-receiver is the official administrative: extremely valuable gift is a taboo; and an exclusive souvenir-nature gift, such as a pen would be more appropriate than cigarette and wine.
  • Gifts designed to cater for receiver’s interest and personal hobby would show special concern as well as sincerity of the giver and would be more appreciated.

3 . Using two hands to hold the gift when giving it.

4. It is procedural and polite for giver to insist the receiver on accepting the gift. Chinese gift receivers may decline several times before accepting it, yet again it is highly procedural. Sometimes it is hard to draw a line between polite insistence and coercing; a foreigner may witness a “quarrel” and “fight” between the giver and receiver.

5. When the gift-receiver is a high-ranking official, a proper way of gift-giving is to leave the gift at the secretary’s. When there is a meeting, leaving the gift in the car when the receiver is departing makes it hard for he/she to refuse and makes it easier for the person to accept the gift. (ZX)



Time: Saturday 7:00. P.M.

Place: Zha’s house

Roles: Jin Ye, manager of ABC Co. Zha Rui: director of XYZ Co.

Audience: Zha’s family



金:。。。上次吃饭,知道您爱喝酒,这不,我这次带了一点酒,希望您笑纳。 (giving the gift to Zha, using two hands)

查:哎呀,你太客气啦,家里酒已经很多了,都是人家送的,也喝不完。你的意思,我心领了,这酒。。。 (shoving it back to Jin)





a. to accept:



b. to decline:




It is the first time for Jin to visit Zha’s place. Knowing Zha likes to drink, Jin brings some wine. There is a controlled insistence on Zha to accept the wine. As a receiver, Zha also express appreciation of the gift. Refusing a gift is usually accompanied by a suitable excuse and stressed gratitude. (ZX)

Following up a Promising Contact: Telephone etiquette, text messaging, and e-mail conventions


Besides giving gifts and treating people to meals, telephone calls, e-mails, and text messages are important ways Westerners can follow up on promising contacts. However, Westerners must pay attention to proper etiquette and convention when making phone calls, e-mails, or text messages.

( Seth Warren)


Important Points to Remember:

When making phone calls, the caller should speak slowly, and end the conversation naturally. In some situations, e-mails and text messages can serve the same purpose as a phone call. E-mails or text messages should be simple and clear, as emotions and feelings are difficult to interpret. Also, text messages and e-mails should be avoided on some occasions, especially when the two parties involved are on less familiar terms.

( Seth Warren)



In the script below, Mr. Ma, President of CITIC Bank, gives Mr. Li, CEO of Bank of China, a phone call to thank him for treating him to dinner the previous night. In this phone call, Mr. Ma, the guest from the previous night, hopes to establish the foundation for future cooperation, by expressing his gratitude for Mr. Li’s hospitality from the previous night, and repaying Mr. Li’s kindness by inviting him to a future engagement. Note that in this situation it would be inappropriate for Mr. Ma to give Mr. Li an e-mail or text message, for Mr. Li and Mr. Ma have just met and are not good friends. (CITIC Banl and Bank of China banks are two major banks in China, and their chief executives should know one another well.)


Place: Office Building

Time morning or afternoon

Characters Mr. Ma and Mr. Li

Audience no audience





李总:是(中国银行行长职位更高,自称小李不合适)。我打电话过来是对您表示感谢。 您昨晚的安排我们印象很深。


李总:您的安排真的很周到。 水平很高啊!









( Seth Warren)



Note that Mr. Ma uses the formal form for “you”( 您 ) and addresses Mr. Ma as 马总 . After stating his identity, Mr. Ma expresses his gratitude for the previous night’s dinner invitation. ( 您昨晚的安排我们印象很深 ) ( 您的安排真的很周到。 水平很高啊 !)As expected, Mr. Li responds with humility, saying it was just a simple meal ( 只是一吨便饭而已 !) This mutual exchange of pleasantries and praise helps build feeling and sentiment ( 感情 ganqing) between Mr. Ma and Mr. Li. After expressing gratitude and praising Mr. Li, Mr. Ma then proposes to Mr. Li that they play golf together. ( 咱们一起去打高尔夫球怎么样?) Mr. Ma does not randomly choose golf; rather, he knows Mr. Li enjoys golf. Finally, Mr. Ma, ends the phone call naturally ( 那好吧。先这样。改日再聊,好吗? )

( Seth Warren)

Continuing the Interaction: Thank you’s and staying in touch


Westerners in China often struggle to maintain positive, long-lasting relationships with Chinese. One way Westerners can build better relations with Chinese is to learn how Chinese stay in touch with each other. In general, Westerners who use the Chinese way to stay in touch will have more constructive relationships in China.

( Seth Warren)


Important Points to Remember:

Like Westerners, Chinese often use phone calls, e-mails, and text messages to maintain relationships and to stay in touch. Whether a phone call, e-mail, or text message, Chinese often build relationships using similar methods. They express gratitude, praise the other party, repay kindness, and seek to continue the relationship. Such interactions build sentiment and feeling between the two parties, thus improving their relationship.

When making phone calls, the caller should speak slowly and end the conversation naturally. In some situations, e-mails and text messages can serve the same purpose as a phone call. E-mails or text messages should be simple and clear, as emotions and feelings are difficult to interpret. Also, text messages and e-mails should be avoided on some occasions, especially when the two parties involved are on less familiar terms.

( Seth Warren)



In the script below, Mr. Wang, CEO of New Oriental, gives Mr. Liu, CEO of Modern English, a phone call to thank him for treating him to dinner. In this phone call, Mr. Wang, the host from the previous night, hopes to continue the relationship ( 关系 guanxi) and builds the sentiment ( 感情 ganqing) between him and Mr. Liu, by expressing gratitude, praising Mr. Liu, and inviting Mr. Liu to a basketball game.


Place: Office Building

Time morning or afternoon

Characters Mr. Wang and Mr. Liu

Audience no audience





王经理:是啊,我打电话过来是想感谢您昨晚的光临。 (除非刘总是高官或上司,王经理没有必要说这样的恭维话。)










王经理:好,再见 !

( Seth Warren)



The main difference with this section’s script and the script from the previous section, “Following Up a Promising Contact”, is that in this script the party who makes the phone call is the host from the previous night rather the guest. The host from the previous night, Mr. Wang, first expresses his gratitude to Mr. Liu ( 我就打电话过来 , 感谢您昨晚的光临 ) 。 He not only thanks Mr. Liu for coming, but also praises him. Then, Mr. Wang seeks to continue the interaction by inviting Mr. Liu to a Houston Rockets basketball game. ( 对了刘总,周六晚八点在北京体育馆火箭队赛。我有两张票,想请您一起去看,好吧? ).

( Seth Warren)

Conducting Conversations


Regardless of the setting, any conversation which lasts more than a few minutes consists of three segments: getting into the conversation, guiding the conversation, and ending the conversation. Each step in the process requires unique skills and awareness. Though conversations in both the United States and China follow the same three steps, the techniques employed at each stage are different between the two countries. It is important to understand the appropriate methods for each step in a conversation with a Chinese interlocutor.

When initiating a conversation, it is important to project both a friendly attitude and confidence. Naturally, one’s familiarity with the other individual in the conversation will dictate how one starts the conversation. If the conversation is between two people meeting for the first time, it is best to briefly introduce oneself to the other person in the conversation. With friends or more familiar acquaintances a less formal start to the conversation is often more appropriate.

Over the course of the conversation, if the goal is to “guide” the conversation, it is important to do it in a subtle manner, as opposed to overtly steering the conversation toward some topics and away from others. The most effective manner of directing the course of the conversation is to pose questions. This also gives the other person/people in the conversation a chance to participate. One other important consideration in controlling the conversation is the number of people who are participating. It is important to differentiate between someone who should be considered part of the audience and someone who should be included in the conversation. If there are multiple participants in the conversation it is important to direct the conversation to make sure that everyone is included. It helps to find a common interest between the parties in the conversation, something that is easier the few participants there are. In the United States current events, sports and TV shows are common choices. These are acceptable in China as well, while movies, art, ancient poetry and travel are also good choices. At the moment, chatting about the Olympics is another very useful topic for making conversation with Chinese interlocutors.

When concluding the conversation, make sure that the conversation concludes in a natural manner and the ending does not feel abrupt. It is also important to be aware of the length of the conversation, making sure that the conversation endures long enough to be meaningful, but not so long that it starts to drag on or feel forced. (DB)


Sample Dialogue I

Setting (场景) : 北京东城区远洋德邑写字楼

Time (时间) : 星期三中午

Place (地点) : 院子里

Characters (角色) : 赵强华,钱亮玉(同事)

Audience (观 / 听众) : 院子里遛弯儿的人们

Goal/Intent (目的) : 赵强华和钱亮玉是同事,不过认识的时间比较短。因此,赵强华想通过聊天方式把关系拉近一些,也想进一步了解对方。这会对他们在单位的合作关系有好处。



赵强华: 最近工作挺忙啊,我很高兴咱们每天有机会出来遛弯。

钱亮玉: 是啊。我昨天打羽毛球去了。晚上九点多才着家。

赵强华: 嗯。打球也很累啊。你是不去那个离咱们单位特近的体育俱乐部?

钱亮玉: 是。下了班直接过去就很方便。

赵强华: 那,除了运动你还有什么业余爱好?

钱亮玉: 我喜欢听音乐,唱歌。

赵强华: 是吗?我特别喜欢林俊杰新出的专辑。不过,我唱得不好,我嗓子不行哈哈哈。林俊杰的音调实在太高了,我唱不上去,哈哈。你唱歌的时候都喜欢唱些什么?

钱亮玉: 我也比较喜欢现代音乐。有时候也喜欢跳舞。

赵强华: 是吗?那你真是能歌善舞啊。呵呵。(看手表)哦,都一点半了。咱们先回去吧。回头找机会一起唱歌去,怎么样?

钱亮玉: 好。 (DB)


Analysis for Dialogue I

Zhao qianghua opened the conversation with a rather bland statement about being rather busy with work. Despite the fact that it was not a very exciting opening to the conversation, Zhao qianghua knew that his colleague was also busy, meaning it was something with which Qian Liangyu could identify, as indicated by his response (“是啊”) . With his response, Qing Liangyu gave Zhao qianghua an opening to continue the conversation, because he revealed one of his hobbies, badminton.

From Zhao qianghua’s response, it is clear that he is not much of a sportsman, but he does not immediately abandon the topic, instead asking Qian Liangyu where he goes to play. Realizing that he is ill-equipped to carry on a conversation about sports, Zhao qianghua takes another shot at finding a conversation topic. By phrasing his question in an open-ended manner (“那,除了运动你还有什么业余爱好?”) Zhao qianghua gives Qian Liangyu a chance to respond in any manner he chooses, and provides a more natural transition in the conversation, compared to the abrupt switch of topic that would have come with a more specific question such as “那,你喜欢音乐吗?”

When the conversation switches to music Zhao qianghua seizes the opportunity to pursue a conversation for which he is better suited, based on his own interests and experience. In concluding the conversation, Zhao qianghua finds a very suitable excuse, since the two of them both need to return to work by a set time. This brings the conversation to a conclusion on a good note, and Zhao qianghua concludes the conversation with a question that leaves open the prospect for future interaction (“回头找机会一起唱歌去,咋样?”)。 (DB)


Sample Dialogue II

Setting (场景) : 饭桌上,餐馆包间里;同事们一起用餐

Time (时间) : 星期五晚上六点一刻,下班以后直接去饭馆了

Place (地点) : 北京方庄区天外天烤鸭店

Characters (角色) : 赵强华,钱亮玉,孙丽丽,李鹏

Audience (观 / 听众) : 服务员

Goal/Intent (目的) : 这是同事们第一次一起聚会。赵强华作为主人想要引导话题,让每个人都参与讨论。



赵强华: 很高兴大家都有机会一起聚聚啊。大家就不客气了吧。多吃点儿吧。孙丽丽,你是南方来的啊,我们的北京烤鸭你吃得惯吗?

孙丽丽: 嗯。好吃极了。

钱亮玉: 那你都习惯吃北京菜了,肯定也去过很多名胜古迹了。

孙丽丽: 嗯。。。是啊,就是。。。(沉默下来)

赵强华: 哈哈。没事。我们工作都忙,你可能还没有时间去。我听说你上大学的时候每年暑假期间在一个三峡旅行社做导游。

孙丽丽: 是啊。我特别想念那些日子。当时虽然赚的钱不是很多,但是每天都可以看美丽壮观的景色。是一份很不错的工作啊。

赵强华: 李鹏,你去年也带你家人去游风景宜人的三峡,对吧?

李鹏: 对啊,我带他们去游三峡,后来去了武汉。那个时候钱亮玉正好在武汉旅游。我们在武汉一起玩儿了几天。

钱亮玉: 呵呵。我记得。玩儿得挺开心啊。

赵强华: 呵呵。看来在座的朋友们的旅游经验的确很丰富。希望我们以后有机会去更多的地方。来敬酒敬酒。。。 (DB)


Analysis for Dialogue II

When he opens the conversation, Zhao qianghua sets the tone by saying that he is happy to see everyone together, and creates a relaxed atmosphere (“大家就不客气了吧。多吃点儿吧。”) Since Sun Lili is the only person there who is from outside Beijing, Zhao qianghua makes a point to ask if she has grown accustomed to the food in Beijing, since it is surely different from that to which she is accustomed.

When Qian Liangyu offers a seemingly harmless question (“那你都习惯吃北京菜了,肯定也去过很多名胜古迹了。”) It sort of catches Sun Lili off guard, and it is apparent that she has not visited many of Beijing’s attractions and is not prepared to discuss them. Seeing this, Zhao qianghua adroitly shifts the topic to something that he knows Sun Lili is familiar with. Not only does Zhao qianghua do this to give Sun Lili a way out of the previous question, but also because he knows that he can include Li Peng in the conversation. To that point Li Peng had not said anything, but after hearing Sun Lili talk about San Xia, Zhao qianghua was able to bring Li Peng into the conversation because he knew that Li Peng had visited San Xia the previous year. (“李鹏,你去年也带你家人去游风景宜人的三峡,对吧?”)

After bringing everyone into the conversation, and after it had become apparent that everyone there at least had some traveling experience and enjoyed traveling, Zhao qianghua concluded by saying that he hoped everyone would have more chances to travel in the future, and then offering up a toast. (“看来在座的朋友们的旅游经验的确很丰富。希望我们以后有机会去更多的地方。来敬酒敬酒。。。”) By ending the conversation this way, Zhao qianghua brought to light a common interest everyone had, and added to the atmosphere by proposing a toast. In so doing, he left open the opportunity for the friends to continue talking about their travel experiences, or broach other topics of conversation. (DB)

Expressing Emotions (for a Friend)


Much of Chinese culture is different from American in manners, gestures, displaying sentiments and gratitude. Even though the concept of friendship and what comprises it is arguably very different between the two cultures, surprisingly expressing emotion for friends is quite similar. Just as in American culture we want our friends to know we are there and that they can depend on us, the same holds true for Chinese culture. (JW)

Time : At the end of the workday around 5.30 pm.

Place : At a common meeting area adjacent to the workplace/ (later) a bar

Roles : Friend who has been reprimanded by his/her boss and later dated by his/her girl/boyfriend

Audience : No One/ Other patrons at bar that are not in earshot

Goal : To make the friend feel better


朋友 1 :王朋,怎么了?好像你有点不开心啊。

王朋 :今天。。。今天我的老板对我大发雷霆,他差一点儿炒了我的鱿鱼。

朋友 2 :为什么呢?

王朋 :我跟他说我下个礼拜一不能工作,得带我儿子去看医生。结果,他、他就对我吼起来了,说我三天两头找借口不上班。这算怎么回事嘛。

朋友 3 :那,别着急啊,你老板最近工作紧,压力也大。他一忙啊,说话就顾不上分寸了。谁让他是老板呢。

王朋 (看自己的手机):等一下,最能安慰我的人来电话了!


朋友 2 :出什么事了?

王朋 :老板已经对我发威了,女朋友又要跟我提分手,我受不了这口气了。

朋友 1 :为什么呢?

王朋 :她说爱上了一个叫“马腾”的家伙。他是谁啊?如果我找到他的话,我绝不放过他!

朋友 3 :哎,王朋,别这么冲动。老实说,我们从来就没喜欢过你的女朋友。你看你,天天对她那么好,她呢,还不知好歹地跟别的男人来往。

朋友 2 :对呀, 我也是这么觉得的,你呀别放在心上, 算了吧!


朋友 1 :那,我们该做什么呢?

朋友 3 :找个热闹的地方,让你忘掉这女人。去唱卡拉 OK ,行不行?

朋友 2 :不行,咱们喝酒吧!王朋,你说你想去哪儿?

王朋 :我无所谓。

朋友 1 :今天咱就一醉方休,去三里屯,好不好?

王朋 :行,咱们走吧。


王朋 :咱们干一杯!(都喝了)再喝一杯!

朋友 2 : 慢一点儿喝啦。王朋你就忘掉她,好不好?我们都是你的朋友。

朋友 1 :对,你是个帅哥,不愁找不到(更)漂亮的女友。

王朋 (明显喝醉了):你们是。。。我最好的朋友之一,不,不,不,没有之一,你们就是我最好的朋友。知道吗?

朋友 3 :当然,你要有问题,我们就帮助你,我们一贯都是这样的。

王朋 :我得去卫生间,马上要吐啦! (JW/YL)



In Chinese culture friends often try to minimize the problem to make the friend who was hurt feel better as seen in the above example. The friends suggest that the boss must be busy and under pressure, which is why he/she got mad at Wang Peng. Also, Wang’s friends try to make him see the situation as being better off now than before. Of course, no matter what the friends say, the situation will probably be no better off, friends in both cultures tend to attempt to make their friend view their new situation in a better light by “looking on the bright side of things.”

Friends in both Chinese and American cultures try to get the hurt friend’s mind off his/her problems, which is why they invited Wang Peng out to a bar. The intention is to help him/her forget the current trouble, and help him/her to be happy even if only for a little while. (JW)

Expressing Opinions


Meetings and discussions in China generally follow the same pattern as in America. It is important to get your point across, but not necessarily in the American sense that your opinion must be dominant over all others. It is important when expressing a different opinion to be indirect and not openly criticize others; this is embarrassing for others and creates a sense of resentment towards you. If the conversation does get heated, it may be necessary for the boss to interject, cool the situation down and change the subject. Because the boss or manager is at the top of the ladder, it is important not to directly state that you disagree with him or openly criticize him. It is important overall to help everyone keep face and maintain peace in the collective. (MG)


Setting: Discussing whether or not to cooperate with a foreign firm in installing emissions reduction equipment.

Time: Monday morning; 10:00

Place: Meeting room of Jiangsu Power main office

Roles: 王经理 (Manager)

吴 (Employee)

秦 (Employee)

方 (Employee)

Audience: None

Situation: A Japanese firm, Mitsui, wants to work with Jiangsu Power in installing a furnace for excess methane as part of an emissions reduction program to buy emissions credits and sell them back in Japan. Manager Wang sets up a meeting to hear other employees’ opinions on whether or not the company should go ahead with the proposed project. Mr. Wu says that they should but Mr. Qin does not agree. As the situation gets heated, the boss comes in to change the subject and cool things down. (MG)



王经理 :好,大家都聚齐了,那我把我们今天的议题介绍一下。情况是这样的,前几天,日本的三进株式公司向我们公司表示,希望在我们公司安装一种燃烧废气的装置,然后把减少的排放量作为排放权在日本国内市场出售。在跟他们具体磋商之前,我想听听大家对这件事情的看法。

:我认为 ① ,跟他们合作的利大于弊。首先,国内的空气污染和环境恶化已经成为非常严重的问题。我们公司以后必须把排污量减少到符合国家将要出台的新标准。这次利用外 资安装先进设备,把排放量减少,不仅可以降低成本,提高公司的竞争力,还可以免去我们以后投资环保设备的潜在成本,达到一箭双雕 ƒ 的效果。

:这个有道理,不过这样跟排放权贸易有关的项目都得事先经过国家有关部门的批准。就算跟三井公司合作,我们也要申请取得认可后才行。 ④

:你说得对 ⑤ ,出口排放权的事最后还是政府说了算。



:我同意 方先生的观点。虽然说只有通过批准才可以开始洽谈生意。但像和三井这么大的跨国企业合作,国家本身也受益匪浅,获得审批是不会有问题的。 ⑥


:我承认这也是一种可能。但我们要抓紧时间,不然这个商机会被其它公司抢走。 不是有一种说法么, 一招 先,吃遍天。 ⑦

王经理 :好,我看这件事还是需要多加考虑,等下次开会再讨论。关于公司今年的总生产量 … ⑧

(MG) (YL)


Analysis :

  1. “ 我认为 ” is a good way of presenting your opinion on something.
  2. Mr. Wu begins his argument with the phrase “ 利大于弊 ” and then goes on to say why it is so by giving two arguments of why going along with the project would be good for the company. When making an argument it is important to give evidence of why it is the way you say it is. Concrete examples and statistics are often useful for conveying a point, much like in the United States. However, Chinese often uses a high context conversation style and thus it is not uncommon for someone to use an allegory or long story to get his or her point across instead of just coming out and saying A equals B. Moreover, because of China’s long history, cultural perspectives are more past-oriented. It is thus common for people to bring classical stories or proverbs into an argument.
  3. “ 一箭双雕 ” is equal to “Kill two birds with one stone” in English.
  4. “ 这个有道理,不过 …” is a good roundabout way of stating that you disagree with someone but not coming directly out and telling them that he or she is wrong.
  5. “XX 说得对 ” indicates that you agree with what that person said.
  6. “ 我同意 … 但是 ” is also a roundabout way of disagreeing with someone as it supports what they say but presents an evident conflict in the other’s argument.
  7.  一招 先,吃遍天 is equivalent to “ Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door” in English. It infers that staying ahead of the curve will help make one successful in business.
  8. Seeing that the conversation was getting heated, Manager Wang attempted to change the subject. (MG)



Debating in China can at times get to such a level where speakers are directly criticizing others. But in general, as a means of saving face for the opposite party it is best to speak in an indirect way and not directly say that he or she is wrong. Just like in the conversation, when Mr. Qin did not agree with Mr. Wu he stated that he agreed with part of his argument but felt that there were certain aspects that he left out or should be adjusted instead of saying that he was wrong. Even though both the electric company and the Japanese company were willing, the project would still have to receive government approval before going into action. This was something Mr. Wu did not take into account.

When making an argument, logical progression up to the point you are trying to make is important. Mr. Wu set up his point with the argument that environmental issues are beginning to become more important in China and the government will create new standards to meet the problem. He then proceeded to give reasons why the company should go ahead with the proposed project and get ahead of the business curve. Moreover, it is helpful to know some Chinese proverbs or sayings, like those given, as it is a sophisticated way of getting your point across as well as demonstrates that you understand certain specific aspects of Chinese culture and society. (MG)

Showing that You Do or Do Not Understand


While establishing or maintaining relationships with others, it is always necessary to give feedback to others’ presentations, arguments or talks. Sometimes it is easy to understand these presentations while other times it is not. It is quite natural for a native speaker to show whether or not they can understand. However, for a non-native speaker, this is not such an easy job. When is it necessary to respond? What is the proper way to interrupt others? What phrases or tones are important when designating understanding or not? These must be learned. Now let’s see an example first. (YL) (MG)



Setting : In a group discussion in the American-Chinese communication class.

Time: 1:30 PM

Place : 359 Hagerty Hall, Ohio State University.

Roles :

  • You- Jun ( 幼君 ) and Si Ling ( 思灵 ) (two Chinese students who are talking about their opinions on maintaining personal relationships in China)
  • Drew and Matt (two American students who are listeners)

Audience:Other students.

Intention : As the American students try to understand the native speakers’ conversation, they must show that they do or do not understand them and require explanations if necessary. (YL) (MG)



幼君 :上回咱们谈到交往技巧对关系的建立很重要。可是时间长了,要维持这种关系就得看人的内在素质了。

Drew : 内在素质? 

幼君 :对,内在素质。比如说一个人的外貌和体格是他的外在素质,那么品德和修养指的就是内在素质。

Drew : (点头) ‚ 噢 ƒ 。

思灵 :建立关系是一回事,维持关系是另一回事。它们的游戏规则是不同的。

Matt : 对,但为什么说是游戏规则呢? „

思灵 :这是一种比喻的说法。任何游戏都是有一定规则的,如果没有规则,游戏就无法进行下去。人与人之间的关系也是这样,要遵循一定的规则。

Matt : 哦,原来是这样啊。怪不得我常常听人说起 “ 游戏规则 ” 。那市场规律也能说成是游戏规则吗? …

幼君 :对,可以这么说。

幼君 :我认为如果人际关系的建立带有很强的功利性,这种关系通常是用财富和社会地位的纽带维系的。

Drew : 纽带?

幼君 :对,财富和地位就像一条丝带一样,连接着两个人之间的关系。

Drew & Matt : 哦!一旦对方的这种利用价值降低,关系就会很快冷淡下来。

思灵 :这很正常。另一种情况是情感方面的。随着关系的深入或增多,一个人的秉性就会显现。

Matt : 等等,你能再说一遍吗? † 你说的什么性来着,我没听清。

思灵:禀性,就是一个人内在的深层次的品性,或者说个性吧。有些人很善于交际,很快就可以和不认识的人成为朋友。他们给别人的初始印象不错,很容易和别人 建立较为密切的关系。不过,很多这种人缺乏维持密切关系的内在力量和后劲,暴露的毛病让别人难以容忍,或者很快被对方看透,时间一长朋友就会疏远。

Drew : 你说得很有道理,善于建立关系并不意味着就善于维持关系。我看我身边的朋友,有些人很开朗,大大咧咧的,一会就和一群人打成一片,可是他们的精力好像并没有放在和朋友的真心真意的交往上。到是那些朋友看上去不多的人,却总有一两个很贴心的朋友。 ‡

幼君 :我也发现很多这样的人,他们不断更换朋友,在结识 —— 密切 —— 疏远 —— 新结识这个圈子中循环。不断结识新朋友让他们很难意识到自己在交往中的这种缺陷。 (YL)



 Repeating the part that you are not completely sure about is a good way to ask for an explanation from the speaker. This way the speaker knows what part you did not understand.

‚ Pay attention to gestures and eye contact. In China, the most common way to express your understanding is by nodding.

ƒ There are many modal words and tones in Chinese to show whether or not you understand, such as 哦,噢,嗯 …Different tones added to the same words can express opposite meanings. For example, 哦 . Using a rising tone to say ‘ 哦 ?’ means you cannot understand or you do not agree with the speaker. Using a falling tone ‘ 哦 !’ means you understand and agree on what the speaker says.

„ Another useful expression: 对 is equal to ‘That’s right’ in English.

You can ask questions on what you are puzzled about.

…‘ 原来这样啊 ’and ‘ 怪不得 ’ shows you realize what the speaker is saying, especially that his/her words coincides with your former experience.

†“ 等等,你能再说一遍吗? ” ( Can you say it again please?) This phrase is usually used when you did not catch what the speaker was explaining.

‡ When you understand, you can repeat/explain in your own words as well as join in the talk by adding your own opinions. (YL) (MG)

Useful expressions:


To show understanding : To show that you do not understand:

哦!嗯!噢! 哦?嗯 ? 对 ! 你说什么?

原来如此 / 原来这样啊! 你是不是说……?

我知道了。 你能再说一遍吗?

你说得有道理。 我没有听清楚。

Nodding Shaking your head

Smiling Making a puzzled face

By repeating the words Repeating what you are not sure of with a falling tone with a rising tone.

Asking questions.



Recap :

In China, you can only interrupt others in informal situations. In most formal situations, it is not proper to interrupt others. As such, if you have questions, you should wait until the speaker allows you to ask questions. In most Chinese classes, it is best to raise your hand first if you have questions to ask the teacher.

If the relationship is not very close, it is considered good manners to listen quietly and speak after the speaker stops. This shows respect for him/her.

Do not pretend to know everything. To ask is better than to pretend to know what you do not understand. (YL)

小组项目 3

Group Project 3

Maintaining a Relationship


Group B

Organization and Editing: Patrick Longenbaker 龙蟠

Section One, Conducting Conversations: Ho Yan 何艳

Section Two, Expressing Emotions: Zhichun Lin 林致纯

Section Three, Expressing Opinions: Keith Cunningham 康辉能

Section Four, Showing that You Do/Don’t Understand: Ben Lawson 罗鹏



With the pressures and uncertainties that often go along with the creation of personal, business, and social relationship, a successful new connection may often seem like a great achievement. However, it is important to realize that establishing a relationship is actually only half of the battle. In fact, it is often much more difficult to maintain and foster new relationships over a long period of time. Thus, in order for a mutual rapport to develop during a meeting, it is necessary to be able to effectively handle a conversation, to convey and appreciate emotions and opinions, and to respond accordingly when you do or do not understand something. Without this type of continuing development, the benefits of a new relationship may never be realized.

In each of the following four scenarios, characters attempt to demonstrate how to successfully parlay a fresh connection into a strong relationship. (PL)


Section One: Conducting Conversations

Getting Into a Conversation

Communication is an integral part of our daily lives. We communicate with each other to express our thoughts and feelings and to network with others. Most of the time we can start a conversation simply by making small talk, however, sometimes we have to interrupt others to join a conversation. How can we do that without appearing to be rude? The answer is to be sincere and apologetic and to wait for the right moment to join the conversation. For example, one can jump into a conversation when there is a pause and say “ 你们好,我是何艳。不介意我加入你们的谈话吧 ?” or “ 谈什么这么高兴? ” However, when talking to a Chinese person, one should pay attention to his or her title

and social status and act accordingly. To explain, it is common in the U.S. for people to wear different “hats” in different contexts, an example of specific culture. By contrast, China tends to diffuse culture, where a boss is the boss no matter where he or she is, either in a business or social setting (此观点没有表现在下面的对话中) . The following is a good example of how to join a conversation. (YH)



Time: 6:30 pm

Place: At a restaurant

Audience: None

Roles: He Jun: host

Huang Rong: guest

Zhu Ming: guest

Zhao Peng: guest, latecomer

( 这四人曾是大学同学,现都已毕业且各有所职。这次四人约好碰面并聊聊个人的近况。何君,黄蓉,朱鸣已在饭店坐着聊天。就等赵鹏到后上菜。 )



何 君:对。反正明天是周末,没什么事。

( 赵鹏到 )



( 酒上来后赵鹏站起来并先往自己杯里倒了一杯 )


( 赵鹏罚完酒后帮何君、黄蓉、朱鸣倒酒 )



( 朱鸣,何君,黄蓉都站起来和赵鹏干杯。喝完后大家都坐下 )

何 君:来,你们尝尝这道西湖醋鱼。这是这家的招牌菜,味道很不错。

( 晚餐继续进行 ) ( YH)



In addition to apologizing to the host, it is common for a man who shows up late to a small dinner party to “punish” himself by drinking one to three glasses of beer. (If the gathering is large, than it is also acceptable to simply apologize). This action not only shows that the latecomer is truly sorry for his tardiness, but also helps to lighten up the party’s mood. However if a woman arrives late to a dinner party, she would normally not be expected to drink extra, as it is generally assumed that women are not good at drinking. It is also common protocol to wait for everyone to show up before serving food. ( YH) PL

Section Two: Expressing Emotions

Expressing Your Own Emotions and Reacting to Others’ Expressions of Emotion

Throughout our daily lives, we are often faced with the need to express our own emotions and respond to others’ expressions of emotion. Generally speaking, the way in which we show emotion and react to others’ expressions of emotion should depend upon the specific circumstance. For example, when expressing emotion to our close friends, we can say most anything without hesitation. However, if the listener happens to be our superior, it is clearly necessary to pay more attention to what is being said. (LZC) PL



Time: After work in the afternoon

Place: Bar

People: Four close friends: Zhao 赵 , Qian 钱 , Sun 孙 , Li 李 . Li is late for the gathering

Objective: Li wants to express his emotions about being scolded by his boss and then breaking up with his girlfriend, while his friends hope to comfort him.


(Qian, Sun and Zhao are sitting in a bar and talking. Li enters).

Qian: 老李!你迟到了!罚你今天买单,哈哈!

(Li’s face is full of frustration)

Sun: 老李你怎么啦?看上去气色不太好啊,是不是有什么不开心的事情呀?

Li: 哎。。。别提了。。。

Zhao: 怎么了?

Li: 真是祸不单行啊!昨晚跟女朋友分手了,给我难过得一夜没睡着。结果今天早




Zhao, Qian and Sun: 啊 ~~~~ 怎么会这样!

(Li appears too frustrated to even raise his head).

Qian: 怎么会突然就跟女朋友分手了呢?上次我看到你们都还很要好的样子啊!

Li: 说起原因来复杂了,可能缘份已尽了吧。哎。。。。

(Qian wants to ask more, but Sun stops him, implying that it is better not to continue with such an unhappy subject).

Zhao: 世事无常呀 ~~~ 想开点吧,不要钻牛角尖了,什么麻烦都会过去的。

Qian: 是呀,老赵说得有道理。 老板骂人的情况也很常见了,搞不好是他心情不好


Sun: 关于你和女朋友分手嘛,只能说明她不是最合适你的人了。过去了的事就不要再想了,天涯何处无芳草啊,以后你会碰到更合适的,放心好了。

Zhao: 对对,叫老钱给你重新介绍一个,他在航空公司工作,肯定认识不少漂


Qian: 没问题,包在我身上!老李你要打起精神来!

Li: 多谢你们的鼓励啊!只是现在一时半会儿我还不能完全恢复过来。。。。

Sun: 好,今天咱哥们儿就舍命陪君子了,跟你喝个痛快。服务员,拿酒来!

(The waitress brings beer to the table).

Qian: 来来来,咱们干了这杯!

Zhao: 对对对,今天咱们就陪老李一醉方休!

Sun (patting Li’s shoulder): 看,我是个很少沾酒的人,但今天都为你而破例了,你要赶快恢复过来呀!

Li (touched with emotion): 哎!真是患难之时见真交啊!你们真是我的铁哥儿们!够义气!有你们在这儿我就觉得心里舒服了好多!干!

Qian: 跟我们何必这么见外!好朋友就是要肝胆相照!

Zhao and Sun: 说得好!

(Li smiles, feeling much better). (LZC)



In the dialogue above, Li complains to his friends about breaking up with his girlfriend and subsequently being scolded by his boss. At first, he is very frustrated and his friends try to comfort him. Generally speaking, when trying to comfort someone it is better to avoid (frequently) mentioning his experience. Instead, we should comfort him by suggesting an optimistic outcome for his problems, such as “ 不要钻牛角尖,想开点, 不要太往心里去,天涯何处无芳草,一切都会过去的 .” If drinking beer with the friend, we can also use phrases like, “ 一醉方休,舍命陪君子 .” Afterwards, the person being comforted should normally say something thankful to his friends. Chinese people often use these phrases like “ 够义气,患难之时见真交,肝胆相照 .” (LZC) PL

Section Three: Expressing Opinions

Expressing personal opinions is a delicate process in any culture. One must strike a balance between asserting one’s own views and respecting those of other parties. This is especially imperative in Chinese culture, where the concept of preserving “face” is central to interpersonal interactions. Through carefully phrasing one’s opinion to express one’s views while not offending others, one can assert one’s individuality while still maintaining good relationships with Chinese people.

It is considered polite to give feedback whether or not one agrees with an opinion that another person expresses. This indicates that the listener understands while simultaneously ensuring that the communication process is two-way. There are several phrases in Chinese that one can use to express agreement, such as:




你说得有道理。 Etc.

Simply indicating agreement by using one of these phrases will suffice when one has nothing further to add. However, providing a supplementary comment or posing a follow up question indicates more active participation in the conversation, as can be seen below: (KC)



Time: 1:00 P.M

Place: Jiayibing Company Conference Room

Roles: Manager Sun and Marketing Promotions Department Chief Zhang

Audience: Manager Sun, Chief Zhang, and other management personnel present at the meeting

Objective: Chief Zhang wishes to convince Manager Sun of the importance of test marketing their new line of incense burners in Shanghai.





( Silence )


In the above dialogue, Department Chief Sun expresses his idea to conduct the preliminary sales promotion for the company’s new incense burners. He uses data from the marketing survey that his department conducted in order to support his opinion. Providing concrete data lends credibility to one’s opinion. Manager Sun expressed his agreement with Department Chief Sun’s opinion with the phrase “你说得对 ”. Manager Sun does not need to use honorifics such as 您 because of his higher status. He follows up by asking Department Chief Zhang how he intends to proceed with his plan. Since this is a business setting where ideas must be discussed in detail prior to implementation, it would be insufficient to merely agree to the idea and then disperse. Manager Sun then asked for input from other employees, and then concluded the meeting when nobody else expressed their opinion.

As everybody is different and approaches issues from different perspectives, it is inevitable that disagreements will arise in the course of a discussion. These disagreements need not descend into outright conflict so long as proper etiquette is maintained when individuals express their opinions. In Chinese culture, one must consider how personal opinions are related to an individual’s concept of “face”. “Face” is an intangible concept in Chinese culture with no real equivalent in American culture, but it can be loosely described as the sense of honor or credibility that one has with others. To cause a Chinese person to “lose face” will cause serious damage to relationships with them. As a person’s ideas are a product of their intellect and experience, their acceptance or rejection can become a matter of gaining or saving face. Therefore, when one holds an opinion contrary to someone else, it is important to express respect for the other person’s opinion. In Chinese, this can be accomplished by prefacing one’s comments with one of a number of phrases connoting respect for the other person’s opinions, such as:

你说得不错,但是 …

你说得有道理,但是 … Etc.

These statements often mirror statements for expressing agreement with the other person’s idea, with the notable exception that they are followed with the word “but”. In this way, one establishes respect for the other person’s idea before expressing a contrary view, thus preserving the other person’s “face”. An example of this method can be seen below:

Time: 1:00 PM

Place: Jiayibing Company Conference Room

Roles: Marketing Department Chief Zhang and Manufacturing Department Chief Wang

Audience: Chief Zhang, Chief Wang, Manager Sun, and other assembled company management-level personnel

Objective: Department Chief Wang wishes to express his disagreement with Chief Zhang’s idea to begin the preliminary marketing of their company’s new incense burners in Shanghai next month, stating that two months would be needed to make adequate preparations.



In the above dialogue, Department Chief Wang prefaced his opinion by stating that Department Chief Zhang’s idea was reasonable. This mollifies any opposing statements that he may state afterwards. In this instance, Department Chief Wang’s opinion is not an outright refutation of Department Chief Zhang’s idea, but is merely a criticism of the timeframe for his idea. In this way, it is not likely that Department Chief Zhang will perceive a loss of face or hostility from Department Chief Wang’s opinion.

In summary, when expressing personal opinions in formal contexts, one should:

  • State the validity of the other person’s idea, whether or not one actually agrees with it ; and
  • Express agreement and feedback for an idea with which one agrees to show the person that you are actively listening to them.

One should not:

  • Bluntly state disagreement with another person’s idea or provide a direct contradictory opinion without acknowledging the logic of the other person’s argument, especially in front of the person’s subordinates or superiors; and
  • Criticize the person’s logic for holding a certain opinion. (KC)

Section Four: How to Express Understanding/Misunderstanding

In China, to express an understanding of what someone has said is similar to what one might find in American culture. There are many ways to express understanding something, such as nodding and directly saying “yes.” One does not have to directly state that he or she understands, but rather indicates understanding by paraphrasing what the speaker said. If paraphrased correctly, the original speaker will recognize that the listener has indeed understood his or her meaning.

If one is not sure of what is being said, he/she can paraphrase the speaker and ask the speaker to confirm if it is correct. If incorrect, the speaker will then most likely be able to recognize what the listener has and has not understood.

In the following dialogue, a student named Xiao Luo is in class listening while his teacher explains the structure of the American legislature system. When he does not understand, he asks questions to confirm the information. Notice how Xiao Luo uses language similar to the professor’s original words, indicating that he has understood at least some of what the professor has said. Also, when Xiao Wang incorrectly restates the information, the professor is able to immediately recognize and correct the student’s misunderstanding. (BL)



Time: Beginning of an afternoon class

Place: Classroom

Roles: Professor Wang, Xiao Luo (a student)

Audience: Other classmates

王 老师:同学们好。今天我们学的是美国联邦议会的结构。在美国,国会由两个



王 老师:具体是指参议院和众议院。为了制定新法律,一个国会议员先写一个


小罗: 每个议院里有多少委员会?

王 老师:很多。每个委员会都分某个领域,如金融、国防、交通,等等。


王 老师:不是。委员会审批以后,其他的议员要投票。只有达到一定的支持率以



王 老师:嗯,你说的有道理,但是在美国实际上不是这样。



The dialogue above gives several examples of how to express understanding or misunderstanding. The first time that Xiao Luo asks a question, he uses the same words ( 两个机构 ) as Professor Wang to indicate that he has understood what the professor has said. When Xiao Luo asks his second question (about the congressional committees) he again indicates understanding of what has been said by reusing words that the professor just used, and also by asking for more detailed information. Xiao Luo’s third question (是不是委员会一旦审批议案后就会变成法律?) is an inaccurately paraphrase of the previous information, thereby indicating a lack of complete understanding. Also, Xiao Luo here is using an interrogative to confirm what he thinks he has heard Professor Wang say. This interrogative (是不是) is often used in Chinese culture to confirm that one has understood correctly. After Professor Wang corrects Xiao Luo’s misunderstanding, Xiao Luo responds, “哦,我明白了。” One can also use the negative version of this statement (我不明白) to express that he or she has not understood. 哦 indicates that Xiao Luo, after hearing an explanation, now understands which was previously unclear to him. 我明白了 is probably the most direct way to indicate that one understands, and is also commonly used in China. Finally, Professor Wang shows that he understands Xiao Luo with both an onomatopoeia (嗯) and a statement of agreement. This onomatopoeia’s sound, which is similar to the American closed-mouth version of the word “yes” (sometimes written as mmm) is often heard in Chinese conversations. It is used to indicate understanding, and often times agreement, while someone is talking. Professor Wang’s expression of agreement (你说的有道理) also indicates that he understands what Xiao Luo has said.


Other Useful Phrases:

Express a Lack of Understanding:

“请再说一遍。” - “Please say that again.”

“我对你说的不太明白(清楚)。” - “I’m not too clear about what you said.”

Express Understanding:

“我不同意你说的。” – “I don’t agree with what you said.” (Although the listener

does not agree, he or she has understood what has been said)

“行 / 好的 / 好吧” - All express satisfaction with what has been said (Usually after

someone gives a suggestion) (BL)



After establishing a new connection, maintaining relationships is a crucial step that requires a certain degree of skill and judgment. In fact, one of the first steps of any successful conversation is to be aware of the factors such as the conversation’s content and context, the other party and their feelings, and the (nearby) audience. Thus, as the scenarios demonstrate, the steps to maintaining a relationship vary on a case by case basis. While topics dealing with emotions and opinions can often be approached subtly, it is almost always best to deal more directly with a moment of confusion. Likewise, joining a conversation can be done by directly stating, “ 你们在谈什么,” but should also be done without interrupting anyone who is speaking. (PL)

Repairing Relationships


Group A/ Project 4

Seth Warren , Kate Szewczyk, Zhong Xi, Jin Ye, Ryan Zakes

  • Dealing with Directness and Indirectness 3

Seth Warren

  • Dealing with Confrontation 5

Kate Szewczyk

  • Dealing with the Negative 9

Zhong Xi

  • Negotiating 11

Jin Ye, Ryan Zakes

Compilation: Kate Szewczyk

I. Dealing with “Directness” and “Indirectness”


Given the marked divergence between Chinese and American culture, it is not too surprising that Chinese and Americans have different ways of dealing with rejection, suspicion, and misunderstanding. In many situations, Americans prefer to sidestep the negative. Other times, Americans are direct. Chinese, however, deal with criticism in ways that often differ from Americans. Foreigners in China need to learn how Chinese deal with negative situations, otherwise they will have difficulty maintaining positive, long-lasting relationships with Chinese.


Important Points to Remember:

According to Chinese anthropologist, Fei Xiaotong, Chinese social relations work through social networks of personal relations, where the self is in the center. As one goes further away from the center, the relations between the actors decrease in closeness. The link that holds people together in the social network is “guanxi”, and the feeling that holds the link together is “ganqing”. In this associational mode of interaction, how one acts and behaves depends largely on the status and the relations between the two interlocutors. Following this line of argument, whether or not Chinese use direct or indirect language depends on the situation. Furthermore, how Chinese respond to indirect or direct language also depends on the situational context.

( Seth Warren)


Script 1:

In the script below, Mr. Wang, manager of the bartenders at Qingdao, criticizes two new employees.

Place: Qingdao Beer Museum

Time: morning or afternoon

Characters: Mr.Wang, 龙蟠

Audience: other bartenders



王师傅:小龙,这几天你一点精神都没有。 效果也退步了。昨晚来自美国的顾客训了我一顿,说你对他们不客气。这种行为在咱们公司是不允许的 , 你知道吗?

Patrick :王长,你说的话一点错误都没有。这几天,我的效果确实很低。我没搞好工作。我向你道歉。以后我一定会有进步。


Patrick: 真不好意思,王长。真不好意思。你看我这个人,我脑子到哪里去了?我今晚就到市场去买皮鞋。




The hierarchical nature of the relationship between 龙蟠 and Manager Wang determines how both actors interact with each other in the above setting. Because he is 龙蟠 ’s supervisor, and thus of higher status, Manager Wang does not consider whether he is making 龙蟠 lose face. He directly criticizes 龙蟠, and even uses crude words. On the other hand, because he is lower in status to Manager Wang, 龙蟠 wholeheartedly accepts the criticism, regardless of whether or not he actually believes he has committed any wrong.

Note that the pattern for accepting criticism is largely the same as in the United States. The person who is being criticized admits the wrong, apologizes, and says that in the future they will not commit the same mistake again.

The above script represents one particular situation with actors of specific status and relations. Manager Wang and 龙蟠 ’s behavior will vary according to actors and situations.. For example, Manager Wang would never directly criticize his superiors, for fear of making them lose face. Instead, he may choose an indirect, roundabout way to let his superior know how he feels without hurting them or making them lose face. Similarly, 龙蟠 would have a different reaction if the above criticism came from a co-worker rather than from his manager.

All world cultures have similar situational behavioral patterns, where interlocutors adjust actions according to situations. However, the hierarchical and contextual nature of relationships in traditional Chinese culture accentuates these situational behavioral patterns.

II. Dealing with Confrontation


Handling situations that require complaining and/or criticizing is perhaps one of the more challenging situations that a foreigner will encounter in a new country. Both complaining and criticizing require tact and skill in order not to offend the second party, and without being familiar with underlying cultural meanings and standards, this is quite difficult to do. In China, being tactful requires using a more mild tone in order to ensure that the person you are criticizing doesn’t lose face. (For someone in a position of authority criticizing a subordinate, directness is more acceptable.) The goal of the encounter is thus to resolve the situation, rather than criticize the person. However, being honest and sincere and providing helpful advice is even more important than using a mild tone, so that in the end the problem can be solved in a manner that leaves both parties satisfied.



As someone on the receiving end of criticism, an accepting yet responsible attitude is appropriate. Apologizing for mistakes in China has many similarities to that in the United States. The most important concept to remember is to keep an accepting attitude. If you truly are at fault, it is important to admit your mistake, rather than trying to throw the blame elsewhere. It is also acceptable to stand up for yourself, although not in the form of making excuses, but rather by taking responsibility for your actions and showing that the problem will be fixed in the future.



Dialogue 1:

Roles: 苏经理 : the manager of Toy Co, Columbus branch; 龙蟠 : employee

Setting: the manager’s office

Time: 10:00 a.m.

Audience: None



( 龙蟠 knocks on the manager’s office door.)

苏经理 : 是龙蟠啊 , 请坐。最近怎么样?










Dialogue 2:

Roles: two friends ( 毛小东,马腾 )

Place: at a restaurant

Time: 12:00 p.m.

Audience: other diners at the restaurant; however, the two friends do not have other people accompanying them



( 马腾 and 毛小东 have been eating noodles and chatting casually. 毛小东 borrowed money from 马腾 awhile back and never returned it. )

马腾 : 最近大家都很忙。我们到了上海旅行回来已经有一个多月了。哦,对了,我一直都还没有机会把上海拍的照片印出来给大家呢。





(The two friends continue to chat, having resolved the problem without any conflict.)




The first dialogue takes place within a more formal context involving a boss and her subordinate. Thus, the manager is more direct with her criticism of the employee’s actions, ensuring that the employee is clear on both the problem and on what is required of him in order to ensure that the problem doesn’t reoccur in the future. By stating that it is common for a new employee to have questions, the manager separates the mistake from the employee and his ability as a worker. This makes the criticism easier for the employee to accept and helps to maintain a positive relationship between the manager and the employee. Thus the manager maintains a firm yet approachable stance. The employee also takes responsibility for the mistake, while explaining and showing that he will be more careful to avoid this kind of mistake in the future.

The second dialogue is an example of a much more casual situation between two friends. Because of the nature of the relationship, a more round-about approach is used. Rather than directly asking his friend why he never repaid him, 马腾 simply brings up the topic of the trip, giving his friend a chance to recall the trip and the money he owes on his own. This tactful approach not only gives people the benefit of the doubt, it also avoids causing anyone to lose face. In the end, the problem can be solved without actually involving any criticism or conflict.


III. Dealing with the negative in Chinese culture:

In China, people tend to be more sensitive about the “negative” in social contact, probably because of China’s old cultural tradition that stresses the importance of “face”. On the one hand, modesty and tact are cherished virtues in China: when dealing with negative issues, Chinese tend to (verbally) take it very seriously and try to make themselves sound very positive toward the negative feelings. On the other hand, Chinese also like to argue a little bit to soften the harsh, negative atmosphere rather than to totally reject it. (ZX)


Points to remember:

When dealing with the negative, most Chinese would avoid a direct confrontation. Usually, the first reaction to a negative expression is to show a certain degree of acceptance; for example, when dealing with criticism, they would first, admit his/her own fault before making an argument.

While most Chinese would sound modest and willing to accept criticism in negative situations, they are also used to “finding steps” ( 找台阶下 ) in the process of making an argument. The point to argue should be relatively “peripheral” and should sound sincere. Again it is important to pay close attention to the degree of such an argument: try to keep it at a mild and minor level and avoid further confrontation.

Sometimes, Chinese people express negative opinions in a very, very indirect way. In this case, the recipient is supposed to grasp the implication behind the verbal meaning.



Time: Friday afternoon, 4:30

Location: supervisor’s office

Character: supervisor of accounting office, two accounting assistants: junior Zhang and junior Li,

Audience: none


(Each of the assistants is supposed to have an appointment with the supervisor after work.)

(Junior Li knocks at the door. The supervisor lets her in.)

Li: 经理,您找我有什么事吗?

S: 哦,是小李啊,请坐请坐。一件小事:这个月和上个月的报表里,连着发现了一点错误。。。帐目没有对上,后来经过核实没有大的问题了。你这个粗心马虎的毛病还是要改一改啊。

Li: 经理,报表这事也不是我一个人做的,办公室里那么多人呢,怎么偏偏拣我一个人说呀?

S: 事情虽然是很多人做的,可是大部分还是你经手完成的。你应该还是有主要责任的嘛。

Li: 那反正就是前一阵子,要做的太多了。都我一个人做,出错也是难免的。

S: 好了好了,还好这错误呢也不算很大,今天跟你提一下,下次的时候还是注意一点吧。

Li: 恩,知道了。没有什么事的话,我先出去了。


(Junior Zhang knocks at the door. The supervisor lets him in.)

Zhang: 经理,您找我。。。

S: 哦,是小张啊,是这样的。一件小事:这个月和上个月的报表里,连着发现了一点错误。。。帐目没有对上,后来经过核实没有大的问题了。我知道这些报表在你那里只是过了一下,主体不是你做。可是帐目这种事情,出了一点错就会很严重。所以以后你能不能再仔细一点,啊?

Zhang: 哎,出了错吗?真是对不起啊,没有什么严重的后果吧?

S: 还好,几个错误都被找出来了。。。

Zhang: 咳,我这人,真是!这个粗心马虎的毛病一直都改不了。。。前一阵子,老婆出差,我带孩子,家里那边事一多,工作的事就有点犯糊涂了。。。经理您批评得对,我以后一定注意!

S: 呵呵,人非圣贤,孰能无过。知道了就好,没有关系,没有关系。时间也不早了,今天就到这里吧。

Zhang: 好,那我先走了。再见。



In this dialogue, Xiao Zhang and Xiao Li take a totally different approach to the negative comments : although both of them tend to find an excuse for their mistakes, Xiao Li tends to blame it on others and speaks in an unfriendly, not-so-modest manner, which can only lead to confrontation; Xiao Zhang is more modest and willing to acknowledge the mistake: first he asks if there was any serious loss because of his mistake, and then he admits his own fault and finds a “peripheral” yet audible and acceptable excuse (domestic affairs). (ZX)

IV. Negotiating

  1. Showing “good faith”
  2. Bargaining



Zha Rui, the head-marketing supervisor at Zhong Da Company, is meeting with Mao Xiaodong, the general manager of the Guangdong Province Agency. The purpose of the meeting for Zha Rui is persuading Mr. Mao to continue working as his company’s agent in Guangdong province. Zhong Da’s competitor, Mei Biao, has already contacted Mr. Mao to arrange a meeting to discuss their cooperation this year with the Guangdong District Agency. Zha Rui’s goal is to maintain the continued cooperation of Zhong Da and the GDA. (RZ)


Key Points:

In Chinese, one of the easiest ways to show respect is to simply change 你 to 您 . This formal way of addressing a listener can greatly influence their perception of the speaker. Failure to use this polite form will likely cause the listener to lose face and may even be seen as offensive.

Arranging a meeting by telephone and introducing the guest (played by Zha Rui in the scene below) can give the host (played by Mao Xiaodong) something to expect in terms of what kind of person the guest is and what his intentions will be at the meeting. This can also help the meeting progress more smoothly.

At the beginning of the meeting there is no need to get down to business right away. Instead, this time can be used for some light small talk. As long as the small talk goes well, the meeting can then progress much more comfortably.

When playing the guest in this situation, the more prepared the better. It wouldn’t hurt to learn about the company you intend to visit and about what they do (if you don’t already know). Also, because negotiation requires convincement, bringing any documents that could back up your statements is always a plus. (RZ)


时间:下午 1:30







< 事前林之让范总给白经理打电话引见了一下。这可以大大降低谈判双方的隔阂,为见面谈判打下好的基础。 >


< 适当的赞语给谈判对象以成就感,拉近彼此的距离,为接下来的谈话营造轻松的气氛 >



< 拉老乡,套近乎,打开话题,是惯用沟通技巧。 >



毛:查经理,实不相瞒,上个礼拜有另外的供应商已经跟我们谈过了,今年的情况可能有些变动 ……

查:毛总,对这个情况我们也略有所闻。公司总部就是特意为这个事把我派来跟您讨论的。据我所知美标也想和您合作,如果那样自然对他们极为有利,像毛总这样 的经销商在全广东他们也找不到。可是您想想,您和他们合作,却要花很多心思才行,这明显是损己利人的事。而且之前两年我们之间的合作都进行得很顺利,我们 相信继续我们之间的合作对我们双方都是最有利的。

毛:这次可不同,他们答应多给我 3% 的返点,以广告费的方式报给我。

查:据我了解,美标去年在广东只做了 150 万,不知道和毛总谈的今年的目标是多少?


查:毛总,您这不是摆明着在吃亏吗?我们中达去年做到 360 万,今年应该可以做到 400 万的。按照我们 8% 的毛利率,毛利有 32 万,而做美标的正常毛利约为 9% ,加上特别返利也只有 18 万而已。这 14 万的区别对于您来说可是净利润啊。

毛:那可不一定,以我们的资源,而且以他们品牌的影响力,美标今年做到 300 万我想没有问题。

查:当然,按照毛总的能力,运作美标肯定能有新的局面,不过……美标今年要全线作战,它要想在广东的市场大规模投入肯定会力不从心!而我们的产品在北方市 场已占据绝对的统治地位,完全可以腾出足够的人力和财力开拓南方市场。同时,进军广东卖场是我公司今年的战略决策,公司必然会有较大的市场投入,这一点与 美标相比是具有很大优势的。






查:好的,下周一,不见不散! (JY)



Every time Zha Rui addresses Mao Xiaodong he uses the polite form of “you”. This is an easy and effective way to give face and demonstrate respect.

Before the two start negotiating, they spend some time getting to know each other. After being greeted by Mao, Zha cleverly asks where his host is from by listening to Mao’s accent and then inquiring as to whether or not he is from the north. When Mao says that he’s from Hebei, Zha uses this opportunity to explain that he is from Henan (the province south of Hebei). The fact that the two men are from relatively the same region provides a common link between them that can aid in the development of a relationship. Furthermore, sharing a similarity as intimate as being provincial “neighbors” can lead to even more common ground between the two parties, such as similar tastes in food. Overall, the more two parties have in common, the easier it is to break the ice and start a relationship.

After the small talk, the two get down to business. When handed Zhong Da’s product outline, Mao lets Zha know that there is competition and that this year there might be some changes. Zha is aware of this and reminds Mao that their two companies have been very successful in the past two years. Mao continues saying that this time is different because the competition is willing to use the advertisement fee as his payment. Before Zha argues his case this time, he asks how many advertisements Mao and the competitor had in mind for this year. When Zha hears that the number is much lower that what Zhong Da can do, he uses stats to illustrate how much Mao stands to lose in terms of profit if he chooses to work with the competitor. Still, however, Mao thinks with his company’s resources and the competitor’s influential brand goods they can still fare pretty well. Here’s where Zha really puts his foot forward. He tells Mao that although the competitor is willing to put up a good fight, they’re really not capable of doing so. He then goes on to add that Zhong Da’s products are above all in the northern market and that this year they plan to enter the southern market. Finally, it seems, Mao is interested in what Zha’s company has to offer and asks Zha to elaborate more on his company’s plan. Zha seizes this opportunity to present Mao with an outline and adds once more what his company can do. Seeing that Mao is impressed with the outline, Zha decides to leave while he’s ahead. The negotiation, having gone well, is over and another meeting for the two sides to further discuss their cooperation is set. (RZ)

Repairing Relationships in China

Project 4 (Group Yi):

Joshua Lotz

Yang Jia

Nate Saettel



An important part of maintaining relationships is repairing them when they become strained. In many cases, repairing relationships that have gone sour requires more skill then establishing the relationship in the first place. If the “repair” is not handled appropriately, the relationship may become even more strained than it was to begin with, possibly resulting in a ruined relationship that can no longer be repaired. Because of this, care must be taken to speak and act in such a way that will be acceptable to your interlocutor and not further offend him. (JL)


Context of Dialogues

Zhao is an employee at a branch of Beijing Bank. One day, a customer complains to the customer service office that Zhao entered the wrong name for the customer's newly opened bank account After the customer service office tells the whole thing to Mr. Wang, the director of business office in the bank, Wang criticizes Zhao’s carelessness. Finally, Wang apologizes to the customer, and negotiates some form of compensation to resolve the situation. (YJ, with JL edits)


Scene 1: Dealing with Criticism


Zhang is calling the customer service department of Beijing Bank


Time: Morning

Roles: Customer Service Representative of Beijing Bank

Mr. Zhang, a customer of Beijing Bank

Place: Zhang’s home

Audience: None






张: 21444335








张: 3325666 。







Dealing with criticism and negativity can be very unnerving and uncomfortable no matter what the situation. In this case the customer service representative must deal with an unfortunate circumstance caused by someone else’s failure to properly notate Zhang’s name in his account information. The bank representative must at all times remain calm and deal with Zhang in a very civil manner even though Zhang at times becomes very frustrated and upset. Zhang focuses his frustration and anger on the representative who must in turn deal with the situation calmly and respectfully. Zhang is a customer and therefore he must be dealt with in a way that will not make him more upset and lead to further problems, including discontinuation of business with the bank. Though the mistake was not made by this particular bank representative he must shoulder the burden of Zhang’s criticism. (NS)

After Zhang describes the issue to the representative, the bank worker immediately apologizes to Zhang for the bank allowing something like this to occur and then quickly begins the process to rectify the situation by asking his account number to look up the necessary information. (NS)

The bank representative again apologizes to Zhang for being unable to resolve the issue because of certain restrictions, at which point Zhang becomes more upset. He again blames the bank for the mistake and again the representative must bear the brunt of Zhang’s negativity. The representative once again apologizes profusely for the trouble, but persists in informing Zhang how to best resolve the issue in a very businesslike manner without letting himself become angered for having to endure Zhang’s negativity even though he is not himself guilty of making the mistake. (NS)

Zhang continues to berate the bank representative by telling him he is of no use and would like to speak with his boss. The representative again takes this in stride and apologizes because according to Zhang, he has been no use and also because his boss is currently unavailable. After apologizing, the representative assures Zhang that he will inform his boss about the situation and they will rectify the problem as soon as possible.

The bank representative has successfully dealt with a tense situation by remaining calm and professional. This would be the only suitable manner in which to handle this kind of exchange. (NS)

Dealing with criticism and negativity in a less formal setting may be handled very differently. Some people might react with more criticism and more negativity. Losing face and dealing with feelings such as pride and disappointment can cause the handling of such a situation to get out of control and escalate into something even worse. It is always better to handle criticism and negativity in stride and to think before you react. Reacting on emotion can lead to further issues whether it is a formal or informal situation. The bank representative did extremely well by keeping his cool and not becoming emotionally invested in the exchange. (NS)

Scene 2: Criticizing Others

In this scene, the customer service representative tells Zhao’s complaints to Director Wang. Wang talks with Zhang who is responsible for Zhao’s account. (YJ)


Time: Just after Wang knows the customer’s complaint

Place: at Wang’s office

Role: Wang, Director of the business office of Beijing Bank

Zhao, a business representative of Beijing Bank

Audience: None



王:小赵,今天有一个客户投诉他的账户姓名给弄错了。 10 月 21 号那天是你负责开户吧?






王: 这是今天来投诉的客户的电话,你给他回个电话道个歉。





Criticism is a face-threatening speech act. Relationships among people may be hurt because of inappropriate expressions of criticism. As a foreign language learner, dealing with criticism will require a good understanding of certain strategies or norms in target culture.

The following are some strategies or norms that may work to your advantage in the situation of dealing with criticism:

  • Always keep humble when being criticized by others, even if you do not think the criticism is acceptable. If you are dealing with criticism from your superiors, this is especially important. Direct argument in front of the superiors is considered rude. You need to show your respect for the superior first, and then state your arguments. In the dialogue, Zhao admits he is responsible for the mistake just after Wang told him the complaint from the costumer. Then, he argues that he always works very carefully.
  • Show your openness to criticisms and suggestions. Since modesty is one of the most important themes in Chinese culture. Your will of accepting criticisms and suggestions is highly appreciated in Chinese society. In the dialogue, Zhao uses “ 您说得对 ” to show his will to accept Wang’s criticism.
  • Show your will to correct your errors or to improve your behavior after accepting criticism. In the dialogue, Zhao promises that he will be careful in the future and will not make the same mistake any more.

If you are the one who has to criticize others, you also need to pay attention to certain strategies. Firstly, you need to consider how to save other people’s faces when criticizing them. “face ( 面子 )” is one of the most important factors influencing the interactions within Chinese people. Chinese people tend to save interlocutors’ face everywhere every time. From this perspective, a criticism without hurting other people’s face is considered to be a successful criticism in Chinese culture. Therefore, when you try to criticize others without hurting their face, you need to choose certain polite words to mitigate your critical tone, such as “ 你看 ” “…. 怎么样 ? ”“有没有可能”“能不能 …” In addition, a indirect way of criticism would be appreciated. In the dialogue, Wang does not point out Zhao’s mistake directly in order to save Zhao’s face. He acknowledges Zhao’s previous good performance, and then criticizes his recent carelessness. Praises following by criticism is a very common way used by Chinese people to criticize others without offense. Secondly, if you could propose certain resolutions or suggestions after criticism, people being criticized will feel that you really consider his or her situation and will be more pleased to accept your criticism. In this dialogue, Wang suggests a resolution to Zhao, and asks him to call the customer who complains.

Sometimes, criticism will hurt the relationship among people. But if we use the above strategies to deal it socially and culturally appropriately, we still could repair the hurt relationships and even develop relationships further. (YJ)

Scene 3: Making an Apology

Overview of Problem:

Apologizing appropriately is one of the most difficult aspects of maintaining relationships in any culture. Even for native speakers of a language, it can often be quite difficult to find the right words to apologize in a manner that is acceptable to the party that has been 'wronged.' This becomes even more difficult as the magnitude of what one is apologizing for increases. (JL)



After waiting for some time for the bank to call back, Zhang finally receives a call from Zhao, the bank employee who entered the name on his account incorrectly. In this scene, Zhao must apologize for his mistake in a manner that satisfies the customer, Zhang. Throughout the course of the conversation, Zhao should maintain a tone of speech that is both formal and apologetic, while making sure to acknowledge the magnitude of his error and not attempt to justify it with excuses. The formal form of “you” (您) should be used by the bank representative to address the customer, although Zhang, as the customer who has been wronged, can simply use 你 .

Zhao should pay attention to how the customer responds to the initial apology. If Zhang seems to be unsatisfied with the bank representative's initial apology, Zhao should attempt to find a way to resolve the situation, perhaps by offering some form of compensation to the customer. If at all possible, the bank representative should try to end the conversation on a positive note, remaining courteous throughout. (JL)


Time: About 90 minutes after Zhang first called to complain.

Place: Telephone conversation

Roles: Zhang is a bank customer; Zhao is the bank employee who messed up the name on Zhang's account

Audience: None










赵:我很能理解您现在的心情。为了表示我们银行对您的歉意,我们会把您升级为我们的 VIP 客户,您可以免费享受 VIP 客户的优惠条件。







Overall, this was a successful apology on behalf of Zhao. The scene ends with the problem having been corrected and the customer coming away at least satisfied with the way the problem was handled, despite the fact that the financial losses resulting from the error cannot be repaired.

Zhao begins the conversation by identifying himself as a Beijing Bank representative ( 我是北京银行的业务代表 ) and asking if he is speaking with Mr. Zhang ( 请问您是张先生吗 ?). These sentence structures, 我是 ___ and 请问您是 ___ 吗 , can be used by the caller in any business or other formal telephone conversation and are not just limited to apologies.

Zhang has waited more than an hour and a half for the bank to return his call and he indicates his agitation by saying 你们总算打电话来了 . Zhao apologizes for this ( 真对不起 ) and then quickly proceeds to tell Zhang that his problem has been fixed. By quickly apologizing and then immediately telling the customer the 'good news,' Zhao diffuses at least some of Zhang's anger at the situation. Knowing now that the problem has been resolved and that he will not have to make an additional trip to the bank, Zhang will hopefully be more reasonable to deal with for the rest of the conversation.

After the account name has been confirmed, however, Zhang makes it apparent that he is still angry about the financial losses he has suffered due to the bank error ( 你知不知道你们这个错让我损失了很多钱 ). “ 你知不知道 ”is a useful phrase when you want to emphasize or make the other party aware of a certain fact. Used in this way, it is not an actual question, “Did you know I lost money?” but rather an emphatic statement meant to inform your interlocutor of an important piece of information they seemed to have overlooked or should be aware of, something like: “Do you realize how much money I've lost because of this? (Because you're acting like you don't!)”

Zhao responds to Zhang's anger apologetically, saying he is truly sorry for the inconvenience that this has caused ( 真的很抱歉,给您带来不便了 ), but for Zhang a simple apology is not enough. “What use is sorry?” he questions, and then asks what the bank is going to do about his financial losses ( 对不起有什么用,我的损失你们就不管了吗 ). At this point, Zhao doesn't just say “sorry” again, but in an effort to diffuse the customer's anger he says that he understands how Zhang feels. In order to make up for their mistake, Zhao reports, the bank has decided to upgrade Zhang's account to VIP status free of charge. It is unclear whether this was a premeditated move, i.e. Zhao's supervisor instructed Zhao ahead of time to upgrade the account automatically, or rather a last-minute effort by Zhao to diffuse the situation by offering Zhang some form of compensation.

Either way, the tactic seems to have worked. The best resolution to a problem in any culture is one in which all parties walk away feeling like their needs were addressed (or, in some cases, their demands were met). This is especially the case in Chinese culture, where it is often necessary to make 'token' compromises to ensure that all parties feel that their needs have been addressed, even if the compromise doesn't actually provide them with any substantial benefit. In this situation, although Zhang's actual financial losses were not reimbursed, the token offering of a free VIP account by the bank shows their willingness to compromise and resolve the situation. Certainly the upgraded status to a VIP account does not fully compensate for whatever financial losses Zhang incurred because of the bank error, but short of the bank actually reimbursing him financially (which it is unlikely to do) it is probably the best compensation that Zhang can hope for. Realizing this, Zhang accepts the offer ( 这样啊,好吧 ), but is quick to inform the bank representative that he hopes there will be no further problems with his account. Zhao assures him that there will be no more problems and thanks him for his “support” ( 支持 ). This last sentence is one that would probably not appear in a similar dialogue based on American culture. An American bank representative would be more likely to end the dialogue by thanking the customer for his “business” or thanking him for “choosing XYZ