Chinese Etiquette

Meeting Etiquette
. Greetings are formal and the oldest person is always greeted first.
. Handshakes are the most common form of greeting with foreigners.
. Many Chinese will look towards the ground when greeting someone.
. Address the person by an honorific title and their surname. If they want to move to a first-name basis, they will advise you which name to use.
. The Chinese have a terrific sense of humour. They can laugh at themselves most readily if they have a comfortable relationship with the other person. Be ready to laugh at yourself given the proper circumstances.

Gift Giving Etiquette
. In general, gifts are given at Chinese New Year, weddings, births and more recently (because of marketing), birthdays.
. The Chinese like food and a nice food basket will make a great gift.
. Do not give scissors, knives or other cutting utensils as they indicate the severing of the relationship.
. Do not give clocks, handkerchiefs or straw sandals as they are associated with funerals and death. For example, Sòng (送) means give and zhōng (钟) means clock, therefore "giving a clock" is putting these two pronunciation together to get Sòng zhōng. This two-word pronunciation also is used when in a funeral. Zhōng in this case meant the coffin.
. Do not give flowers, as many Chinese associate these with funerals.
. Do not wrap gifts in white, blue or black paper.
. Four is an unlucky number so do not give four of anything. This is because in the Chinese language, four is pronounced as Sì. This sounds like the word Sǐ which means death in Chinese. Eight is the luckiest number, so giving eight of something brings luck to the recipient. This is because in the Chinese language, eight is pronounced as Bā, which sounds like the word Fā which means wealth in Chinese. 
. Always present gifts with two hands.
. Gifts are not opened when received.
. Gifts may be refused three times before they are accepted.

Dining Etiquette
. The Chinese prefer to entertain in public places rather than in their homes, especially when entertaining foreigners.
. If you are invited to their house, consider it a great honour. If you must turn down such an honour, it is considered polite to explain the conflict in your schedule so that your actions are not taken as a slight.
. Arrive on time.
. Remove your shoes before entering the house.
. Bring a small gift to the hostess.
. Eat well to demonstrate that you are enjoying the food!
Table manners:
. Learn to use chopsticks.
. Wait to be told where to sit. The guest of honour will be given a seat facing the door.
. The host begins eating first.
. You should try everything that is offered to you.
. Never eat the last piece from the serving tray.
. Be observant to other peoples' needs.
. Chopsticks should be returned to the chopstick rest after every few bites and when you drink or stop to speak.
. The host offers the first toast.
. Do not put bones in your bowl. Place them on the table or in a special bowl for that purpose.
. Hold the rice bowl close to your mouth while eating.
. Do not be offended if a Chinese person makes slurping or belching sounds; it merely indicates that they are enjoying their food.
. There are no strict rules about finishing all the food in your bowl.

Tipping Etiquette
Tipping is becoming more common place, especially with younger workers although older workers still consider it an insult. Leaving a few coins is usually sufficient.

Think you have gotten all the information in your head? 
Do participate in our short quiz and see how much you can score!

World of Chinese Culture