In our last post, we wrote about a general overview of Hong Kong. Next, we want to go a little bit deeper into the business culture of HK.
Hong Kong can get extraordinarily hot and humid but that doesn’t mean you can dress down at all occasions. Even with the warm climate, formal business attire is expected unless your company or your business partner says otherwise. Generally, IT and fashion industries are more lenient but you should think of them as the exceptions. It is always safe to go with a dark suit, shirt, and tie.
Like in the west, you can start with a handshake complemented with maybe a bow (not a full one…). Just like in many cultures, approach the most senior person first and then work your way down. Take corporate hierarchy seriously. Also make sure to address the counterpart with their title and surname. You will notice that many Hong Kongers will have a “western” name in addition to their given name to make it easier to remember. Remember to keep your business cards stocked as these are exchanged almost all the time and the lack of one may be misinterpreted as you not wanting to do business with the other party.
The concept of “face” is exceptionally important in Hong Kong and Chinese culture (as well as other Asian countries like Japan and Korea). An individual’s respect and reputation is dependent on this “face” so confronting or embarrassing someone in public will result in the person “losing face” which will most likely end your business relationship. This must be respected and handled with care.
Business Dinners and Lunches
Eating and drinking is a big part of the Hong Kong business culture. It is an important way to communicate with both your colleagues and business partners/clients. The use of chopsticks may be daunting but people will understand if you are unable to use them and the restaurants will most likely stock other utensils as well. It is common to have alcoholic beverages but don’t go overboard. Just use your common sense J
Lai see is a red packet/envelope containing 20-100 HKD that is given to people you deal with on a regular basis during Chinese New Year. You should use new bills with even numbers.
In our next post, we are thinking to write a little about thriving industries here in Hong Kong. Will keep you posted!