While China is a growing and important market for many companies, most people are confused about the written and spoken languages.
Most Chinese names consist of three or two characters or words. Many non-Chinese are confused because the surnames come first. For example, “John Smith” would be “Smith John”. So chances are that the name “Liu De Hua” on a Chinese business card means that the person is “Mr. Liu” (not “Mr. Hua”). I sometimes joke with my confused colleagues not to “Wing” the “Wong” number.
Some adopt an unofficial Western name so “Liu De Hua” may ask you to call him “Andy”. The rule is to ask the person how he or she would like to be called when you are unsure. Just be sure to recognize that this is more a nickname when it comes to email addresses and other official documents.
So these are a few tips to hopefully make things a bit clearer. Feel free to share any related tips or advice!
Frank Lio is a Product Manager, Strategist, and Change Agent in the Hi-Tech industry. His growing track record of successes include creating 3 winning software products, leading nationwide seminars, and turning around a failing business unit. He is currently serving a dual role as Product Manager and Business Team Support Manager at Instron ITW.
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