Socializing in a Chinese business setting can be very stressful, but it’s becoming more and more common for international businesses and entrepreneurs to work with Chinese corporations. Many professionals are also now looking for work in China.
To have smoother conversations and show your enthusiasm for working with Chinese people, it’s important to know some useful phrases. Here are 12 phrases that can help you in any Chinese business situation.
(Hěn gāoxìng néng gēn nín huìmiàn!)
Very happy to meet you!
When addressing someone in Chinese, using 您(nín) instead of 你(nǐ) shows greater respect.
One phrase you could use is 很高兴能跟您见面 (hěn gāo xìng néng gēn nín jiàn miàn), which means “Nice to meet you”.
Another option is to use 会面(huì miàn), which is more formal than 见面(jiàn miàn) and better suited for business events, even though both words mean “meet”.
How should I address you?
When meeting new people in a business setting, it’s important to ask their name. Instead of using the casual phrase 你叫什么名字？(Nǐ jiào shénme míngzì? – what’s your name?), you could use the term 称呼(chēng hū), which means “to address”. This gives a more polite and appropriate impression.
Very pleased to meet you!
幸会(xìng huì) is a very polite way of saying “meet” in Chinese. It expresses a deep sense of honor for the opportunity to meet another person. It’s customary to say 幸会(xìng huì) twice, which amplifies the feeling of honor and pleasure.
(Zhè shì wǒde míngpiàn, yǐhòu qǐng duō duō guānzhào!)
This is my business card. I’d like to have your guidance in future.
When meeting a new potential business partner, it’s customary to exchange business cards.
To express your willingness to learn from the other party and seek their guidance, you could say 以后请多多关照(Yǐhòu qǐng duō duō guānzhào). This phrase uses 多(duō), meaning “much”, and 关照(guān zhào), which literally means “to look after”. It’s an extremely humble way of asking for their guidance and support.
(Nín yí lù shàng hái shùn lì ma？)
Did you have a smooth journey coming here?
When striking up a conversation, it’s often helpful to start with something safe.
One example is asking about their trip using the phrase 您一路上还顺利吗？(Nín yí lù shàng hái shùnlì ma?). This phrase uses the expression 一路上(yí lù shàng), which means “on the way”, and 顺利(shùn lì), which refers to being “smooth”.
By asking if their trip has been smooth, you’re showing concern for their well-being and using a polite phrase appropriate for business contexts.
(Fēicháng gǎnxiè nínmen de zhāodài, nínmen ānpái de tài zhōudào le!)
I’m very grateful for your warm reception. Your arrangement is so thoughtful!
When attending a business event, such as a conference or party, it’s a good idea to show your appreciation for the host’s preparation and effort.
One way to do this is to use the phrase 感谢(gǎn xiè), which means “thankful”, and 周到(zhōu dào), which is often used to describe an event that has been thoughtfully organized. This allows you to compliment your host and show gratitude.
(Nínmen gāngcái yǐjīng chī guò fàn le ma？)
Have you already eaten just now?
It’s very common to have small talk immediately before beginning a formal business meeting.
Talking about eating is a light-hearted topic and a significant aspect of Chinese culture. Using the phrase 您们刚才已经吃过饭了吗？(Nínmen gāngcái yǐjīng chī guò fàn le ma)? is a polite way to greet people and start a conversation.
(Zhè lǐwù shì wǒmen de yì diǎnr xīnyì, xīwàng guì gōngsī xǐhuān.)
This gift is a small token of our appreciation. We hope your company likes it.
In Chinese culture, people often give gifts to business partners or clients as a sign of respect, gratitude, and hospitality. This helps build and maintain relationships in business settings.
You can give your gift at the end of the meeting and explain your good intentions. “心意” (xīnyì) means “kind intention,” and “贵公司” (guì gōngsī) is a polite way to say “your company.”
(Hěn gāoxìng néng yǒu jīhuì hé nínmen hézuò.)
Very pleased to have the opportunity to cooperate with you.
When doing business with Chinese people, you can use this phrase to show your satisfaction after reaching a deal. The phrase includes the terms “机会” (jī huì), which means “opportunity,” and “合作” (hé zuò), which means “cooperate or cooperation.”
(Xīwàng wǒmen hézuò yúkuài！)
I hope we will have a pleasant collaboration.
You can also express your excitement for cooperating with the other party by saying “希望我们合作愉快” (Xīwàng wǒmen hézuò yúkuài), which means “hope we have a happy cooperation.”
It’s common for both parties to shake hands after saying this as a sign of encouragement. “愉快” (yú kuài) means “happy.”
(Wǒmen bǎochí liánxì)
Keep in touch!
After a business event, it’s important to express your desire to stay in touch for future opportunities. In China, creating and keeping good relationships is crucial for doing business.
To convey this, you can say “保持联系” (bǎochí liánxì), which means “to maintain contact.” “保持” (bǎo chí) means “to maintain,” and “联系” (lián xì) means “to contact.”
(Yǐhòu yǒu shénme wèntí, kěyǐ suíshí hé wǒ liánxì.)
If there’s any question (you may have) afterward, contact me anytime.
To end a formal conversation, it’s polite to welcome any future questions the other person may have.
You can use the phrase “随时和我联系” (suíshí hé wǒ liánxì), which means “contact me anytime.” This shows extra courtesy and is considered a standard way to end a conversation. “问题” (wèn tí) means “questions or problems,” and “随时” (suí shí) means “anytime.”
Using these 12 essential phrases in a business setting can help you improve communication and develop positive relationships in China. By incorporating these turns of phrases into your professional work, you’ll be able to show respect, gratitude, and hospitality to your business partners or clients. Knowing formal and polite language is crucial for doing business in China, and these phrases are just the beginning. Practice using them, and you’ll see the benefits they bring to your work.