What gifts to give to your Chinese business associates and which ones to avoid?

Gifts For Chinese Associates

This indeed can be tricky, choosing the right gifts for your Chinese business associates whom you are looking to form a long-term partnership with. Gift giving is a rather delicate issue in China. There are various unspoken but set norms of gift giving in the country, which you need to rigorously stick to. First and foremost, it is illegal to offer gifts to a government official.

Gifting a business contact is more acceptable. The most preferred gift is a banquet. You will find it curious that quality writing instruments are a favored gift in China. However, the following gifts and/or colors should be avoided since they are considered inauspicious:

* Anything white, blue or black
* Clocks
* Cut flowers
* Straw sandals
* A stork or crane
* Handkerchiefs

Do not give any sharp, pointed object as a gift; it symbolizes severing of relations. Also, avoid giving things in sets of four.

The Chinese do not appreciate really entering into a business partnership with strangers. If possible, try to bring into play an intermediary, who enjoys an established relationship with the Chinese counterpart, for the first meeting.

Gifts are a vital way of creating guanxi in China. According to Chinese etiquettes, a person will usually decline an invitation or a gift three times before eventually accepting it. The giver is expected to persist gently so that the gift is accepted. Be sensitive to genuine refusals, and don’t force it on the receiver!

Never present a lofty gift that your Chinese business associate cannot reciprocate in kind, since this would put the latter in an awkward position.

The Chinese people will not open a gift immediately on receiving it. You should follow suit unless the other person insists that you check it. Foreign cigarettes, fine whisky, quality wines, cognac are acceptable as gifts. However, food items as a gift is a strict no-no as it can denote poverty. Wrap gifts tastefully, but again avoid white, blue or black. (Avoid elaborate wrapping.)

Imbibing nuances of Chinese culture and traditions will help you get into the good books. Understanding and following the gift giving formalities is very important or else you will end up offending your Chinese host.

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The correct wrappings for corporate gifts

corporate gift wrappingWhile it may not be the most important factor for men, everyone likes a well-wrapped gift. Women like it for the art of proper presentation and men look upon it as a sign of respect and recognition of their status. No matter what you buy, add a personal touch to it, make the packaging attractive, without going overboard. After all, this is your boss and colleagues we are talking about.

There are a variety of papers to choose in the market today, but don’t even look at the ones that have dancing teddy bears and floating hearts and candy sticks on them and avoid the bright ones that need you to wear sunglasses before you can glance at them. Go for sedate patterns like stripes and the checkerboard effect and muted colours like a deep, matte red, rust orange and pale yellow.

Use the bows, but keep them to a discreet size.

When going for more easy-going patterns, stick to polka dots, geometric designs and you can even create your own paper with the company logo for your boss.

Wrapping up gifts in boxes is infinitely better as a hard casing sub-consciously portrays a more professional approach than a soft one.

However, don’t let your creative mind despair – there are certain occasions that you can safely go jazzy for:

Colleague gets promoted: Now’s the time to go for the super-shiny stars that proclaim him to be one!

Colleague gets married: Bridal red, jhatak gold, shiny silver are the wedding colours you can unabashedly use for this occasion; go creative with your selection of wrapping patterns as well. Oh, and bring on the floating hearts as well!

Colleague is set to become a parent: Now you can go for the dancing teddy bears.

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Getting past office politics with the right gifts

Office PoliticsBosses can be tough sometimes, but those whom you directly deal with on a daily basis can be tougher. Often, impressing your boss is not as crucial as it is to stay in the good books of his right-hand man. And contrary to a popular saying, flattery will get you everywhere.

Be alert and pick up on clues to what your colleague or immediate superior(s) want. Does your colleague like to read? Buy a small, portable magazine or book rack to keep beside his chair. They’re reasonably priced, easy to deliver, and for presentation purposes tie a satin bow around the handle. Casually mention that when you saw the rack you immediately thought of his love for reading and bought it on an impulse.

Has his clock stopped working? Browse through your online options and select the most appropriate one. Always be quick to offer to exchange it for him if he mentions it’s not the right size or the right colour.

Always keep hierarchy in mind – your colleague’s gift should be smaller than that of your immediate boss, but equally special. When it comes to gifting the head honcho, discreetly find out what your superior is giving him and select something that is not ostentatiously better. At no point should your colleagues feel that you are trying to upstage them.

The rule of thumb in any organisation is being non-threatening to those who are close to your superior(s) without appearing eager-to-please; you’ll just be named an ass-licker if you do.

Gifts, when chosen thoughtfully and presented intelligently, can go a long way in securing your position in the company. Teaming a great performance with an image of being thoughtful and caring – that’s mastering office politics!