Follow the Leader: How to Communicate in Meetings


Not many people like meetings. However, it is a global fact that all organizations and companies need meetings to communicate. What does differ around the world is how meetings are run. What can and can't you do during meetings in China?

Arrive Early

Never being late for the meeting if you want to make a good impression. One person who isn't worried about making a good impression is the boss. In some companies, bosses are often late for the meetings.

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Computers and Devices

During the meeting, it's best to listen attentively as people speak so you can participate and discuss issues as come up. You can take notes on a notepad, tablet, or computer. However, try to not use computers or tablets when you are participating in the conversation. Keep them half closed or turned off.

Direct Feedback

If you are the team leader, be sure to give your team members direct feedback. "Maybe you should change this part a little bit..." sounds polite to Westerners and encourages creativity. In China, however, team leaders need to give direction and say "Change it." Team leaders generally have more experience than team members and a broader vision for the work so team members follow their leader's decisions.


Making Suggestions

Generally, Chinese people don't like to make suggestions or share comments in front of the whole team. Instead, they will keep silent during the meeting and then give suggestions afterwards. This is the way to let people "mianzi" or save face. For this reason, many foreign businesses advocate informal communication such as discussions over coffee, tea, or lunch.

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