Serious business

Etiquette tips for doing business in Taiwan

How to greet, meet and more in Taiwan. Words by DESMOND SO, illustrations by A YIP

Etiquette

Attire

Dark, conservative suits and ties are the norm. Women’s attire should not be revealing. Work attire among younger Taiwanese (especially tech types) is becoming more relaxed but still neat. The Taiwanese are not as liberal with air-conditioning as Hong Kong or Singapore; dress accordingly.

Etiquette

Greetings

It should be fairly obvious who the eldest or most senior people are; greet them first. Handshakes are common, though it is advisable to allow your host to initiate, especially for women. Saying (or attempting) hello in Chinese (ni hao) will be appreciated.

Etiquette-coffee

Meetings

Try to bring a senior executive, and make it a point to present to the most senior person in your host group during the meeting. You’ll spend time getting to know each other. If tea is offered, be sure to accept; sip it slowly to avoid refills and calls of nature. Translate all simplified Chinese materials into traditional Chinese characters.

Etiquette- business card

Business cards

Always give and receive cards with both hands. Take a moment to read the card before putting it away. Never write on someone’s card or place it in a back pocket. A bilingual card is appreciated and should use traditional Chinese characters (not simplified).

Etiquette- faux pas

Faux pas

Winking and pointing are inappropriate. Don’t talk politics, especially if they relate to cross-strait relations. Touching is generally not acceptable. Don’t write names in red ink. Don’t cause others to lose face. Don’t talk politics. Yes, it’s so important we said it twice.

Desmond So, founder of the East-West Institute of Applied Etiquette

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