Hear It From the Companies: Guanxi & Mianzi

Congratulations! You have acquired an internship in China! By now, you must have researched all about how to successfully communicate and work with your soon to be Chinese co-workers. Through the research you have gathered, you must have read about “face’’ and “guanxi’’ a lot. Well, here’s a bit more, with tips and advice from two of  our partnered companies here in China!

What is Guanxi or Mianzi?

Here is a quick introduction for those that don’t know these two concepts. Guanxi, or “relationships,” is used to describe relationships in their many forms. These can be between friends, families, or businesses.

You can read more about the concept of guanxi from James here, but it is absolutely essential to conducting business and succeeding in China.

Mianzi or “face”, explained here, is so important in Chinese social, political,  and business circles that it can literally make or break a deal! It can be translated as “honour”, “reputation” and “respect,” and the concepts are deeply rooted in the Chinese culture.

So how do you achieve Guanxi and Mianzi??

There are a few ways you can better your guanxi and gain some mianzi- read some comments from our partnered companies on how best to do it!

“Be open-minded, curious, and prepared!” – Marketing firm

The lifestyle and the business environment in China is different than it is in the West, so have an open mind for your new lifestyle here in China. You need to try being patient and understanding of your new cultural surroundings and work with potential language barriers.

Be Curious

Ask lots of questions while you are at your internship! Don’t worry about bothering your new co-workers, they want to help you, so ask away!

You should also engage in conversations while you are at social events, such as dinners, with your coworkers- this a great way of building your “guanxi!” However, you should remember to keep your questions reasonable and appropriate for the situation. You don’t want to ask any questions which might embarrass or cause your coworkers to lose face themselves.

Be Prepared 

Even though you might not know much about China in general, the city you are in, or the language, you can always do a bit of research to show you care enough to learn. This might mean doing some research before you visit, and continuing to ask questions and engage while you are there.

“Offer to buy dinner or go out to eat, and asking for help with and opinions on your work.” – Education company

interns-out-to-lunch-with-their-Mandarin-teacher-build-guanxi

But this doesn’t need to be anything fancy! Even something simple such as grabbing some nice dumplings or noodles at lunch can do the trick. Spending some quality time with your co-workers will be good for your guanxi and networking, and for your daily working life! If your coworkers ask you out for dinner after a long day of work, take the chance and enjoy a good meal and conversations- you will build your guanxi, mianzi and social circle!

Finally, ask for help when you need it. This is still an internship! You aren’t expected to know everything, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice when you don’t know something. Asking a colleague will show you are engaged and interested in the work, and they will appreciate sharing their knowledge of the task with you and gain face. It’s as great to earn as it is to give face!

Feeling ready for that internship now? Best of luck and enjoy your time in China!

Don’t have an internship yet? Check out 5 reasons why you should get one in China!