Select Country
China / Conversations / Polite

Avoid Saying No in China

Try to avoid saying “no” , this is a sign that you are unwilling and it is considered rude in the Chinese culture. This may sound strange, especially if you’re raised in the West, with a very direct way of communication.

If you’re doing business in China, it’s important to understand the nuances of one’s reply. Obviously, it’s hard to answer every single question or demand with a direct ‘yes’. But the Chinese unconsciously avoid a direct no by giving the reply a twist. For example:

  • Sounds like a reasonable idea, let me look further into it.
  • I’m a bit busy currently, but I’ll make sure to get back to you in the future.
  • It’s a good suggestion, but you may also take (time/budget/resources) into consideration.
  • Interesting, let me think about it.
  • etc

Looking at the above examples, you may realize that, that some responses look like constructive feedback, which is a good think. Others are just to avoid saying no. It’s important to listen carefully to the nuances if you’re doing business with a person. This allows you to better know what to expect from the business relationship in the future.

chinese tea

When you’re a Westerner, saying ‘no’ may be less rude, relative to when it comes from a local. After all, there’s much more international interaction nowadays, so some Chinese are aware of the cultural differences in communication.

About Author

Active traveller with a love for Asian food and Japanese anime.