Negotiations in China

In preparing for a business trip to China, most Westerners like to arm themselves with a handy, one-page list of etiquette how-tos. These often include, for instance, carrying a boatload of business cards, bringing your own interpreter, speaking in short sentences, and wearing a conservative suit. Such advice can help get you in the door and even through the first series of business transactions. But it won’t sustain the kind of prolonged, year-in, year-out associations that Chinese and
Western businesses can now achieve.

Indeed, our work with dozens of companies and thousands of American and Chinese executives over the past 20 years has demonstrated to us that a superficial obedience to the rules of etiquette gets you only so far. In fact, we have witnessed breakdowns between American and Chinese businesspeople time and time again. The root cause seems to be a failure on the American side to understand the much broader context of Chinese culture and values, a problem that too often leaves Western negotiators both flummoxed and flailing.

The challenge of mutual understanding is great. American and Chinese approaches often appear incompatible. All too often, Americans see Chinese negotiators as inefficient, indirect, and even dishonest, while the Chinese see American negotiators as aggressive, impersonal, and excitable. Such differences have deep cultural origins. Yet those who know how to navigate these differences can develop thriving, mutually profitable, and satisfying business relationships.

Several caveats before we continue. First, Americans have been used as primary examples of Western negotiators not only because research has focused primarily on U.S. companies and executives but also because Americans exhibit
individualism and assertiveness more strongly than other Westerners do. As a result, they tend to get into more trouble at the negotiating table. Second, it must be acknowledged that sweeping statements about a billion-plus people can be
simplistic. Americans have also been stereotyped. Nevertheless, we are confident in asserting that the cultural values apply, in varying degrees, to most Chinese— whether they live in China or in other parts of the world. Finally, the Chinese reader will not be surprised by what we observe here. Our goal is to help Western and Chinese negotiators learn to work together more efficiently with mutual respect and gain the ultimate prizes.

Adapted from Harvard Business Review


Exercise 1

Find the words or expressions in the text which mean the following:

1) to equip yourself with sth: __________
2) convenient: __________
3) a lot: __________
4) a person who translates orally: __________
5) to continue to last: __________
6) twelve items: __________
7) concerning only the outside of sth: __________
8) a failure: __________
9) confused: ___________
10)a warning or a specific condition: __________
11)if: __________
12)working with good results: __________


Exercise 2

Match the expressions from the two columns into logical collocations:

1) a business                         association
2) a how-                               varying degrees
3) a prolonged                     to often
4) a root                                understanding
5) mutual                              statement
6) time and time                 trip
7) all                                      again
8) in                                       to
9) a sweeping                      prize
10)the ultimate                   cause


Exercise 3

Provide English equivalents of these expressions:

1) korzystne dla obu stron
2) asertywność
3) przede wszystkim
4) przejawiać (np. jakieś cechy)
5) mieć pewność co do czegoś
6) założyć coś (np. hipotezę)
7) posłuszeństwo
8) trwający wiele lat
9) tłumacz ustny
10) długi (czas oczekiwania)
11) być świadkiem czegoś
12) poruszać się po czymś


Grammar corner…

In the text you’ve seen many words that have been made from others. It’s called word formation, as you already know from previous lessons. We may make new words in English by adding something in front of the original word (it’s called a
prefix, e.g. im-, un-, dis-) or at the end (it’s called a suffix then, e.g. -ence, -ity, -re).


Exercise 4

Without looking back in the text, make new words from the ones provided.

1) to execute =>
2) to obey =>
3) to fail =>
4) compatible =>
5) efficient =>
6) direct =>
7) honest =>
8) personal =>
9) aggression =>
10)excited =>
11)navigation =>
12)different =>
13)individual =>
14)to state sth =>
15)mutual =>



to last – trwać
to arm yourself with sth – uzbroić się w coś (np. cierpliwość)
handy – poręczny
a boatload – mnóstwo
an interpreter – tłumacz ustny
to sustain – podtrzymywać
a dozen – tuzin
a breakdown – załamanie (np. negocjacji)
flummoxed – zagubiony
a caveat – zastrzeżenie (np. w umowie)
whether – czy
efficiently – skutecznie
a business trip – delegacja, podróż służbowa
a how-to – porada
prolonged association – długa współpraca
a root cause of sth – główna przyczyna czegoś
mutual understanding – wzajemne porozumienie
time and time again – wiele razy
all too often – zdecydowanie zbyt często
in varying degrees – w różnym stopniu
a sweeping statement – generalizacja
the ultimate prize – ostateczny cel (np. negocjacji)
mutually profitable – korzystny dla obu stron
primarily – przede wszystkim
to exhibit sth – przejawiać (np. jakieś cechy)
to assert sth – założyć coś (np. hipotezę)
to navigate – poruszać się (np. w chińskiej kulturze biznesowej)
obedience – posłuszeństwo
excitable – łatwo wpadający w podekscytowanie



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Ex. 1
1) to arm yourself with sth
2) handy
3) a boatload
4) an interpreter
5) to sustain
6) a dozen
7) superficial
8) a breakdown
9) flummoxed
10)a caveat

Ex. 2
1) a business trip
2) a how-to
3) a prolonged association
4) a root cause
5) mutual understanding
6) time and time again
7) all to often
8) in varying degrees
9) a sweeping statement
10)the ultimate prize

Ex. 3
1) mutually profitable
2) assertiveness
3) primarily
4) to exhibit sth
5) to be confident in
6) to assert sth
7) obedience
8) year-in, year-out
9) an interpreter
11)to witness sth
12)to navigate

Ex. 4
1) executive
2) obedience
3) failure
4) incompatible
5) inefficient
6) indirect
7) dishonest
8) impersonal
9) aggressive