Taiwan Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022

Subchapters:

  • Introduction
  • Addressing
  • Business Meeting
  • Communication
  • Recommendations
  • Public Holidays

Introduction

Taiwanese people have an enterprising approach to life, their generally accepted credo being “work hard and save hard.” In business culture, “face” is important, which is something like reputation, and gifts and expressions of willingness are earned, the essence of which is generosity. Visit Animalerts for more information about Taiwan culture and traditions.

Addressing

When addressing, the surname is used, which is correctly stated in the first place on business cards and documents, in contrast to our practice. However, the Taiwanese have already Europeanized considerably, so in many cases they put their surnames after the first name, following the example of our practice. If someone has a scientific degree, it should be listed before the surname. Also keep in mind that Taiwanese people don’t like to talk to business partners. In business negotiations, wait for the initiative of the Taiwanese partner. A Western handshake is usually acceptable. However, sometimes you can make a mistake because according to Taiwanese tradition, a slight bow is sufficient. Kissing on the cheek is considered too intimate and certainly inappropriate on first dates.

Business meeting

Taiwanese people tend to be very well equipped to argue, have a lot of patience and assertively pursue their goals. When it comes to negotiations at the highest level, the Taiwanese representatives will have very accurate and up-to-date information about the situation in the Czech Republic. The thinking of Taiwanese negotiators is very conceptual, they think about everything with a perspective of many years ahead. Their patience, psychological resilience, negotiation decency and modesty are shown during negotiations. Knowledge of English is at a good level. It is a fundamental mistake not to have a large stock of business cards, for businesses doing more business with Taiwan, it pays to have them with a Chinese translation as well. Titles (Ing. etc.) are usually not used, it is important to indicate the functions and respect their hierarchy. Business cards, documents, gifts (very important), etc. are given and accepted with both hands. It is also not advisable to hide a business card in your pocket in the presence of its owner. It is often useful to place a business card on the table in front of you during the meeting – it helps to remember the name and function of the business partner. Lunch time is “sacred”, so the meeting should preferably be from 9 am to 11 am, in the afternoon from 2 pm to 4 pm. In order to achieve the goals, the Taiwanese partner spares no time and is able to drag out negotiations until late hours, or to reach an agreement in a space of time that the foreign party already considers lost. The function of the business owner is key in business negotiations. Hierarchy cannot be underestimated. Heads of delegations are the first to enter the conference hall and they negotiate. Partners should make sure that they are equal in status. Team members should not express opinions different from those of the leader. The company owner or CEO should be present at all meetings with the partner, especially if the “highest” is acting on the Taiwanese side. Punctuality is highly valued – being late to a meeting is a personal insult. The meeting starts with a welcome from the host – the team leader. Subsequently, the other party should reciprocate (according to the position). The discussion about banal things is supposed to relax the atmosphere and create a pleasant mood. Applause can be a way of welcoming a visitor to the company. It should be reciprocated. In the presence, it is not appropriate to gesticulate, make faces, touch someone or tap someone on the shoulder or laugh for no reason. Taiwanese value sober behavior and calmness. They also hate pointing fingers – if you want to point at something, do it with your whole palm. Another important point is the fact that what is agreed on one day is not necessarily the “starting” position for future negotiations. It is normal to have to start a little from the beginning. Here, too, it is therefore necessary to arm yourself with patience and keep detailed records of the meeting. All important issues should be mentioned at the beginning of the partnership, there will be no room for this later, or questions could cause “loss of face”. So, it is better to mention the problematic issues at the beginning of the relationship and to come back to them.

The so-called guanxi (kuan-shi) plays an important role in creating the conditions for concluding a business transaction. Partners from Europe should perceive that “guanxi” is fundamentally impossible to build without the Taiwanese element. In other words, no foreigner, even if he works in Taiwan for 20 years, has “real” guanxi. Guanxi is a synonym for “we went to school together”, “our dads are former classmates”, “we worked together for 10 years at the headquarters”, “she is my aunt”. Such guanxi is difficult to catch up with and therefore the participation of Taiwanese collaborators or partners when entering and acting on the market is absolutely essential. Mutual knowledge and the necessary acquaintances are thus important for gaining the partner’s trust and concluding a contract. For that reason, the foreign partner must expect that sometimes they have to go through several visits and negotiations.

For more formal and important meetings, a dark suit and shoes, tinted ties are always a matter of course. Tuxedos are not permitted. For normal business meetings, a long-sleeved shirt, tie and dark trousers are sufficient. Men don’t have to wear ties or jackets in the summer. Dark pants and shirts unbuttoned below the neck are acceptable. Business etiquette for women involves dark skirts or suits and low-heeled shoes. Mini skirts, flashy jewelry or low-cut blouses do not make a good impression.

As in many Asian countries, eating and drinking with potential partners and clients is an important part of doing business in Taiwan. It is recommended to hold an introductory meeting and other important discussions over food and drink.

Communication

Although English is a frequently used language of communication in the business world, it is useful and practical to communicate (albeit to a limited extent) in Mandarin or Hokkien. It is also recommended to hire a bilingual translator/interpreter, especially if a business contract or other legal matter is being negotiated. Instead of signing the usual contract, they usually use name stamps. When meeting, people shake hands, they do not bow except on formal social occasions. One aspect of Taiwanese culture that can confuse or even anger foreigners is laughter. Taiwanese people laugh differently than we do, especially when they are embarrassed or when they want to make light of an unpleasant situation. Laughter can also mask surprise or disapproval of an inappropriate suggestion or question. A Taiwanese partner is able to convey shocking news or a negative opinion with a smile. As a rule, it is difficult for them to directly formulate negative opinions, so it is important to be able to read between the lines and be patient when dealing. But they also have a sense of humor, it’s just quite different. Taiwanese appreciate humor rather impersonally, they have a negative attitude towards impatient, aggressive, violent or jovial behavior on the part of their partner. It is essential for the Taiwanese not to “lose face”, so be careful when criticizing and asking for significant concessions. European decency towards women, e.g. helping with luggage or putting on a coat, is more likely to cause embarrassment.

Recommendation

It is polite to give a gift or business card with both hands, which symbolizes giving from the whole heart. Punctuality is extremely important in Taiwanese society. Arriving on time is interpreted as a lack of respect for the partner, and it may happen that he cancels the planned meeting. It is also advisable to establish a good relationship with a local partner and create a reliable business network – “networking” is an important part of business and having the so-called “guanxi” (kuan-si or connections) is highly valued in Taiwan. It is recommended to find a local partner or manager in a senior position at the very beginning of the business, who will maintain or develop business relationships/networks.

Public Holidays

January 1 – New Year

February 10 – 16 – Chinese New Year

February 28 – Peace Day

April 4 – Children’s Day

April 5 – Memorial of the deceased

May 1 – Labor Day

June 3 – Dragon Boat Festival*

September 9-10 – Autumn Festival*

October 10 – Public holiday

December 31 – Public holiday

If a holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, the work day off is usually moved from the previous or following Saturday to create an extended four-day weekend (i.e. the day off is SAT-TU or TH-SU and the next Saturday is worked instead).

*Date is moving

Taiwan Culture of Business