Photo: iStock / Getty
Photo: iStock / Getty

The role of back-and-forth negotiations in global business has become more vital than ever, courtesy of the booming economy in China and the ever-growing influence it has on international consumers. This article provides valuable tips that can help you effectively navigate the intricate negotiation process in the People’s Republic of China.

Manage expectations

The Chinese people have learned a very important business principle: how to maintain synchrony and balance. Chinese businesspeople never want to get disappointed. Similarly, they never want to get into situations that would let down potential benefactors. For this reason, they always give emphasis to cooperation and good relations, rather than publicly differ with you.

When dealing with the Chinese, do not let their way of life fool you into complacency. Any compliments accorded to you must be duly kept in perspective. Strive to understand the hidden meaning of words and phrases that the Chinese use. A good professional employment organization can provide valuable input on this matter.

Keep cool

When wooing a prospective love partner, it is always important to control your emotions. The same principle applies when engaging in business negotiations with the Chinese. Being extremely anxious can be a red flag, and shrewd businesspeople from the PRC are always on the lookout for suspicious signals.

Take your time

In North America, Europe and Africa, men and women who engage in business think of negotiations as sprints. In China, however, the opposite is true. The Chinese prefer to engage in marathons. For this reason, most negotiations occur over extended periods of time.

In the United States, for instance, business negotiations routinely take place over the telephone or through teleconferencing. However, this rarely takes place in China. The Chinese put lots of emphasis on face-to-face interactions.

Keep emotions under control

It is not advisable to set deadlines in your mind. Do not threaten to leave the negotiating table, and neither should you openly display feelings of anger or frustration. If you do, the Chinese would doubt the genuineness of your wish to cooperate.

Not a one-person game

Once you get to China, you will discover that business negotiations are a team sport. In most cases, you will encounter a dozen people across the bargaining table. The whole group would, without doubt, have an ultimate decision-maker. Learn how to identify the ringleader – and the person or people who can exert influence on him or her as well.

Be patient

Many people are not aware that patience is one of the virtues that Chinese people value greatly. To negotiate a business deal successfully, you must learn to be patient. The cold- shower strategy of decision-making is undoubtedly the most effective tactic.

Before reacting or making the final decision, pause first. Think about the whole deal, listen some more, read about it and even sleep on it. Remember that it is not a sprint; you are taking part in a marathon.

Yuan, not dollars

Unlike people who have done business or have grown up in the United States, the cost perspective of people living in China is significantly lower and substantially different. Whenever they see, hear or read about a 100-yuan note, what automatically gets into their mind is something equal to 100 US dollars. That is, without doubt, a principally different perspective of a material object that is similar.

Do not be egoistic

As a rule of thumb, Chinese people focus on what prospective business partners do, rather than what they say. They have little regard for people who are disrespectful and flashy. It is therefore important to be modest.


In summary, it is very important to take your time. In most cases, it requires several months or even years to negotiate a long-lasting business deal successfully. Do not expect to strike a deal within a few days.

It is imperative for any business that intends to move its operations to China to hire a reputable professional employer organization to help, given that the process can sometimes be complicated.

The gold-rush mentality works in some parts of the world, there is no doubt about that. However, if you wish to do business in China, keep away from that mentality. Ensure that the business deal that you are getting into would be beneficial to the organization in the short term and long term as well.

Third, establish contacts at the highest levels possible. Reaching out to people who occupy high positions in government and society can help you find efficient and effective negotiators.

Finally, keep developing your best alternative to a negotiated agreement. Having a strong and sheltered alternative away from the negotiating table is the best and most reliable solution to hardball bargaining tactics.

Elliot Rhodes is a financial analyst and instructor, who enjoys using what he has learned from seven years of studying business and money to help others achieve financial stability. He recently co-founded 247 Call, a call-center service provider.

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