Meetings and Greetings 


Meeting schedules are not highly structured in Taiwan. There may be an agenda, but it serves as a guideline for the discussion and may act as a springboard to other related business ideas. As relationships are valued, there may be some time in the meeting devoted to non-business discussions. Time is not considered more important than completing a meeting satisfactorily, therefore meetings will continue until the discussion is completed and may extend well past a scheduled end time.

As stated above, people in Taiwan are very indirect in their communication and are as concerned with the effect of their words on others as they are with the content of their communication. They take great care to avoid communicating anything directly that would hurt or offend a colleague as it would cause a loss of "face". They will gently push their ideas forward and wait for others to respond. If they disagree with an idea, they will simply remain silent.


Communication Style


Taiwanese value a well-crafted message. They appreciate sharing a deep and broad contextual understanding in order for the core message to be delivered and understood. That context comes in the form of words, gestures and facial expressions. Brevity is not particularly valued, especially if it sacrifices something in the delivery.

It is important for people from direct cultures (USA, Germany, Scandinavia, etc), where context is not as highly valued and brevity is crucial, to realize that messages might be misconstrued as rude and the information provided might be inadequate because of its lack of context. People from direct communications cultures should take care to patiently listen for the information needed. Furthermore, a tendency to have few gestures may make it more difficult for the message to be understood so be prepared for questions.


Dining Etiquette


The Taiwanese prefer to entertain in public places rather than in their home, especially when entertaining foreigners. If you are invited to a Taiwanese home, it will happen once you have developed a relationship and should be considered a great honor


Greetings are formal and the oldest person in a group is always greeted first.


  • Handshakes are the most common form of greeting with foreigners.

  • Many Taiwanese look towards the ground as a sign of respect when greeting someone.

  • You need not follow their example as they understand that westerners tend to smile warmly when introduced.

  • Most greetings include the rhetorical question, "Have you eaten?"

  • The Chinese traditionally have 3 names. The surname, or family name is first and is followed by one or two personal names.

  • Chinese women do not change their names when they marry other Chinese, and the children’s last name will generally follow that of the father.

  • Often their personal names have some poetic or otherwise significant meaning, so asking about the meaning is a good way to break the ice.

  • When you are first meeting a person, address the person by their academic, professional, or honorific title and their surname.

  • If those you are meeting want to move to a first name basis, they will advise you which name to use.

  • Some Chinese adopt more western names in business and may ask you to call them by that name.


Gift Giving Etiquette


  • Gifts are given at Chinese New Year, weddings, births and funerals.

  • The Taiwanese like food and a nice food basket or a bottle of good quality alcohol are gifts.

  • A gift may be refused the first time it is offered out of politeness. Attempt to offer the gift again; however, never force the issue.

  • Do not give scissors, knives or other cutting utensils as they traditionally indicate that you want to sever the relationship.

  • Do not give clocks, handkerchiefs or straw sandals as they are associated with funerals and death.

  • Do not give white flowers or chrysanthemums as they signify death.

  • Do not wrap gifts in white, blue or black paper.

  • Red, pink and yellow are considered to be auspicious colours.

  • Elaborate gift wrapping is imperative.

  • Do not give an odd number of gifts, since odd numbers are considered unlucky.

  • Four is also an unlucky number. Do not give four of anything.

  • Eight is the luckiest number. Giving eight of something brings luck to the recipient.

  • Avoid giving anything made in Taiwan.

  • Present gifts using both hands.Gifts are not opened when received.

  • Gifts are generally reciprocate

  • Do not give a lavish gift unless it is to reciprocate an expensive gift that you have received.