Chinese Business Culture -The importance of ‘feng shui’ in the Chinese business environment

Feng shui 風水 is an ancient art that originated in China over 3,000 years ago. In literal translation, ‘feng’ means ‘wind’ 風 and ‘shui’ means ‘water’ 水. According to Chinese philosophy, when things are placed in the appropriate environment the feng shui of a space creates a positive energy, and in turn there is harmony in that space. The appropriate feng shui allows individuals to feel more comfortable within their surrounding environment. Feng shui is relevant in spaces such as the home, the garden and the office. For Chinese people, understanding how the placement of yourself and objects within a space can bring either a favourable or unfavourable effect is a very important cultural element. This is extremely relevant in the Chinese business world, because for Chinese people the quality of the feng shui can be the force behind the profitability of the future of the business.

If you are in your home country, and you invite Chinese business people to your office , it is a good idea to understand the basics of feng shui so your Chinese contacts can feel at ease and therefore confident to conduct business with you. Simple adjustments such as placing live plants at the front door and having the work space face  the front of the office are some of the elements that create a feng shui friendly office.

In China before setting up an office it is common practice to bring in a feng shui expert to measure the feng shui in the office, and to advice on the necessary adjustments needed to create a place with positive energy. The closest comparison in Western culture is an interior decorator; however the design by an interior decorator is individual for each space according to what the client wants. In contrast, feng shui is a set formula, which is used for each space, and the fundamental rules do not change.

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