Chinese Expressions Used In Business


If your plan is to do business there for a long time to come, knowing the basics will undoubtedly be of great help

Since the end of Maoist China, the Asian giant has experienced a level of growth so unprecedented it has placed this vast nation among the great superpowers. Needless to say, this emerging market has also created a plethora of business opportunities that make China a perfect fit for any company that has expansion in mind. While it’s true that the Chinese language can be rather hard to grasp, if your plan is to do business there for a long time to come, knowing the basics will undoubtedly be of great help. However, sometimes a bit of popular knowledge about national expressions and idioms can aid in creating a connection with your future Asian partners, so here are a few small bits of knowledge that will certainly make them smile.

脚踏实地 (JiÇŽo tà shí dì) 

Meaning literally “Stepping on solid ground”, this idiom is frequently used when a certain business plan will yield better results if it is grounded on solid foundations and an approach of sustainable growth or expansion is preferred. 

小洞不补,大洞吃苦 (XiÇŽodòng bù bÇ”, dàdòng chÄ« kÇ”)

Translated as “If small holes aren’t fixed, larger ones will appear”, this one is a good fit if there is a problem that is becoming entrenched and will eventual cause a significant issue if not addressed. When running large operations, it’s rather common to see persistent headaches that never seem to go away, and this idiom will underline the importance of getting them solved.

读万卷书不如行万里路 (Dú wànjuànshÅ« bù rú xíng wànlǐlù)

When dealing with human resources and recruitment, this expression meaning “It is better to have walked 10.000 miles than to have read 10.00 books”, can let your partners know that you value experience over academic qualifications. It largely depends on one’s particular enterprise and recruitment standards, but in a country in which a large part of the population does not have access to higher education, sometimes the real hands-on experience can easily become a priority.

一个萝卜一个坑儿 (YÄ«gè luóbo yÄ«gè kÄ“ngr)

While the literal translation of “One turnip, one hole” puts this one a bit on the funny side for westerners, Chinese economy has been largely agricultural for millennia, so idioms related to the industry are all around the place. The expression itself is used to emphasize that every worker fulfills a vital role in the chain, and is essential to the success of the whole endeavor. In short, one should value every individual, both within the company and out.

Leave your comment!