Language and People
The main language used in Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese dialogue (or, Ming-Nan dialogue). In general, Taiwanese or Chinese people are very good at languages compared to their other Asian counterparts. For specific languages, an interpreter will be available in Taiwan for which you will need to pre-arrange, or request. People are open and very friendly here; if you ask for directions, people will go out of their way to show you the place you want to go. The streets of Taiwan are generally safe. The night markets are mostly open till midnight. Seven-Eleven convenience stores are everywhere in every town. You will find that food is the least thing you have to worry about.
The population of Taiwan is around 24 million people and it is a densely packed society. People are family oriented and conservative. However, you will find that the younger generation is very much like westerners. Baseball, basketball, golf, and mountain hiking are favorite sports.
When people meet each other, handshaking is common, but hugging and kissing is uncommon. You can carry on a conversation of a personal nature, and so forth. Personal relationships are fairly important in Taiwan or China. If you can build your business with personal trust, it will last a long time; obstacles or difference can be overcome easily. In a sense, networking is the expansion of a personal relationship. A casual and open-minded opportunity may lead to an unexpected business window.
As I have mentioned before, personal relationship building is very important and effective in doing business in Taiwan and China (including Hong Kong); the conversation conducted in a business meeting is at best sincere, humble and honest. Knowing each other’s background, especially family, is a plus. For building personal interests, it will be most advantageous that your conversation is tied to your counterpart’s interests as well. The casual conversation can include all kinds of sports (e.g. golf, football, baseball, tennis, fishing, music etc.). Make sure that you do not go into too much depth when approaching a subject you are not familiar with. Paying attention to what your partner is talking about is vital. Listening to what people have to say is an important part of communication skill. Do not carry on a conversation on some sensitive issue such as religion or politics. I think this is the same any where in the world lest you may get into unnecessary argument on differences. Even when you get into the subject by accident, you should know where to stop- for it may lead into a disaster if your business meeting becomes a heated debate.