What Weddings Teach You About Business in China

If you want to do business in China, you must understand face, developing relationships and guanxi.

Business at a Nice Dinner

In some ways a wedding is a business transaction. Weddings can teach you how to build relationships, develop guanxi and give face. The family invites other family members, friends and close business contacts. Sometimes the couple is giving face by inviting someone. At other times, the couple will thank someone important for giving them face by showing up. Learning to read between the lines at the wedding hall will help you read between the lines in the boardroom.

The main part of the ceremony is a meal. Meals are an important part of doing business in China. A good friend, Geoff O’Keeffe, believes that people must leave their “food ninniness at the door.” I agree. Let it all go and enjoy the experience. Doing this alone will help you build relationships in China.

On a side note: different foods have different meanings.

If you look around, you will notice that the more important people are sitting closer to the bride and groom or at better tables. Hierarchy is important in China and you should at least understand why people are sitting in certain spots. The family will be closest and at the best spots. Friends and old classmates will come next. The further out the less important you are. This is similar to how it is done in business, so study and learn.

The Gift is Money (but is it really a gift?)

Instead of a gift, each person brings a red envelop with money. Give more money for closer relatives and friends. The number must be even but should not include any fours. Give the red envelop to someone at the table where you sign in. They will write your name and the amount you gave in a register. Later they will create a list of each person and the amount they gave. This list will be used at future weddings. One day, you will invite the bride and groom to your wedding (or your child’s). They will bring a red envelop with more money than you gave them. Guanxi functions in a similar manner. If someone does a favor for you, you should be prepared to pay them back. Break this unspoken rule and risk losing the relationship. Follow this rule for long enough and you might even develop some guanxi (as much as a foreigner can anyways).

Have you ever attended a Chinese wedding? What was your experience?

4 Reasons Chinese Group Lessons are Better

Our clients come to us because they want to learn Chinese. We recommend group classes for a variety of reasons. In fact, we only enroll students in private lessons for some very specific reasons.

You Will Be a Better Speaker

For many people, group classes are the perfect environment to study Chinese. You could learn to speak better Chinese in a group class. There is one key reason behind this. In private lessons, you will learn more Chinese faster. You will even become very comfortable speaking Chinese with your instructor. The problem is you are not studying Chinese so you can speak to an instructor. You are studying Chinese so that you can communicate with Chinese people in China. Those are two very different things.

Studying in a group class will force you to speak Chinese with other people. This is invaluable. You will get used to making (and laughing off) embarrassing mistakes. You will get used to the blank stares when people don’t understand you. You will also get used to trying again and again until you get it right.

It’s More Fun

Studying Chinese one on one instructors is as fun as we can make it. In group classes, you will get to learn Chinese as a group. You can laugh at their stories, attempts and mistakes. (and they can laugh at yours!) You will be able to network and develop professional contacts with similar interests. You can even start a study group. More than one of our classes has gone out for beer together!

The Cost is Lower

Group lessons cost less per class and per month. If you study hard in a group class, you will learn almost as much as you would in a private lesson (but you do need to study a bit more to make up for the lack of the one on one instruction.)

You Will Learn More in the End

Learning any language is a marathon not a sprint. You need to be prepared for the long haul. If you spend time getting to know people and joining our small community, you will not only enjoy your lessons more, you will stick with it longer. The longer you study the more that learning Chinese will become a part of your life. This is essential if you want to master the language.

Click Here to Register for our Next Group Class