The dos and don’ts while in Asia
Asian markets offer an unprecedented potential for Canadian products and services, but one cultural blunder could end any business relationship. The golden rule is to never assume that the norm here applies in Asia. Also differences exist within a continent. As we are entering holiday season, here are a few tips concerning the exchange of gifts:
- The value of the gift shouldn’t be too high as the recipient would feel obliged to give a gift of similar value, or would feel embarrassed for giving you a gift of lower value. If you receive a gift, don’t forget to reciprocate with a gift of similar value.
- Pay particular attention to the packaging, which is just as important as the gift itself and thus must be impeccable. In general, avoid black and white which are colours that signify bereavement. Remember that red packaging, which is highly thought of in China, should not be used in Korea.
- The number “4” has a similar significance to the number “13” in the West. It is thus essential to avoid packets of four.
- Certain objects should definitely be excluded. This is the case for all pointy items (knives, letter-openers). Also, one should abstain from offering gifts that tell the time such as clocks or calendars.
- If the person to whom you are giving the gift refuses to accept, you must insist. It is common practice and is a sign of politeness. In addition, don’t be surprised if the recipient doesn’t open it immediately in front of you.