It is easier to persuade a Chinese decision-maker one-to-one. Making a decision in front of the team could lead to losing face. For the Chinese business is always personal. They prefer to do important business in a personal setting.
Americans persuade both one-to-one and as a group. Important decisions are made with direct input from the team. There is no American equivalent to Chinese sense of losing face.
Americans can do business in both business and private settings. The latter, however, is reserved for sensitive relationships and topics. Discrete one-to-one discussions can also take place in an office.
U.S. team-leads discuss key topics in the presence of team-members. This can make Chinese team-leads and team-members feel very uneasy. Chinese seek to move discussion to a one-to-one personal setting. The Chinese fear Americans indiscretion.
Americans feel comfortable in one-to-one talks in an informal setting. They worry, however, about the time investment required. They prefer fact- and analysis-based discussions in a business setting. Americans discuss important topics with their subject area experts.
Advice to Americans
Engage Chinese decision-makers under four eyes. Never engage them in front of boss, peers or team-members. The more sensitive the topic, the more personal you should get. Important decisions have personal consequences. Meet and discuss discreetly. Build rapport. Get personal.
Advice to Chinese
The Chinese priority of saving face does not exist in the U.S. Americans persuade, discuss and decide in groups, small and large. Make your case to Americans in the setting they choose. You can always request a one-to-one interaction.