What is the etiquette for meeting in Taiwan?

  • Make sure that you great the senior-most person of the group first. The greeting should be in a formal manner.
  • When greeting foreign nationals, the Taiwanese use handshakes.
  • To convey respect for a particular individual, they look towards the ground. However, it is alright if you don’t follow suit.
  • The people will ask you whether you have eaten for the sake of politeness.
  • Their names contain three parts. The first part signifies their family name, while the other two belong to the individual.
  • The children born to a married woman will acquire the family name of their father. However, the woman’s family name doesn’t change.
  • Taiwanese human names mostly have some significant meaning. Asking them that will get you a step closer in knowing them.
  • It is recommended to address a person with his or her academic or social honorific title, when meeting for the first time. However, if you are more comfortable addressing a person with his or her first name, you may ask the person and do so.
  • Western names are also pretty popular among the Taiwanese and they may like it if you address them by those.

What is the proper etiquette for gift giving in Taiwan?

  • The occasions on which gifts are given are weddings, birthdays, Chinese New Year and even at funerals.
  • The Taiwanese would appreciate a package a food as a gift. Good quality alcoholic drinks will also make nice gifts.
  • They may decline your offer of a present initially out of modesty. Try and insist subtly.
  • Be careful not to include instruments used for cutting in your gift. For them, it means ending the relation between you and them.
  • Remember not to present handkerchiefs, clocks, and straw sandals as they symbolize funerals. Chrysanthemums and other white-coloured flowers also signify death. 
  • Don’t use black, white or blue coloured wrap to cover your present.
  • The colours red, pink or yellow should be used to wrap gifts, as they are considered auspicious. Gift wrapping is usually very extravagant in Taiwan.
  • Be careful about the number of items you are gifting. Odd numbers along with the number four are deemed unlucky.
  • On the contrary, the number eight is thought to bring luck to the receiver.
  • They would appreciate it if you would gift something from your own country rather than Taiwan itself.
  • Use two hands when offering the gift.
  • If you are given a gift by someone, remember not to open it in their presence.
  • It becomes binding on your counterpart’s side to gift you something back too. Thus, try not to gift expensive items.

What is the proper etiquette for eating in Taiwan?

  • Initially, the Taiwanese will host dinners in public spaces. However, once you develop a stronger relationship with them, they may invite you to their homes.
  • Make sure that you are punctual and clothe yourself in a proper manner. Dressing well is a sign of respect.
  • Before entering the residence, remove your footwear.
  • Make it a priority to greet the eldest person first.
  • Taiwanese people have more elaborate table rituals than most westerners. The execution of these rituals will depend upon the formality of the occasion.
  • It would be good if you learn how to eat with chopsticks before you come to Taiwan.
  • You will be told where to sit for dining. If you are the guest of honour, you will most probably get a seat which faces the door.
  • Wait for your host to start eating before you do.
  • Be experimental and try everything offered to you. Even if you don’t like the taste, don’t make it apparent or it will be considered rude.
  • They have a dish called ‘Food of Honour’ in which they may serve various items like fish cheeks and eyes. If you cannot consume it, very tactfully serve it to others yourself. The same method should be enforced while serving yourself something which is not familiar to you.
  • If you feel you cannot finish a particular item, let it stay idle on the plate.
  • Usually, food is circulated through a revolving tray. However, if the host is sitting near you, he may serve you food himself.
  • Before consuming food or drinks yourself, it is polite to offer it to others first.
  • Refrain from eating the last piece of food from the serving tray.
  • Make sure that you pass the tray of food around to everyone. Also go forward and serve them the dishes whenever necessary. For this purpose, you can use the back of the chopsticks.
  • There will be a special chopstick rest present for you to put your chopsticks down regularly.
  • Do not leave the bones of eaten meat on the plate itself. There will be provided, a special bowl for that purpose.
  • It is alright to lift the bowl of rice while you are eating. When the quantity of rice left is left, you can hold the bowl close to your mouth, so that you can conveniently push food inside. However, be careful that you don’t lift plates.
  • Don’t add sauces or spices to food on your own accord. Observe the usage of the above things by the others and then follow suit.
  • While burping and belching while eating is considered rude in modern culture, in Taiwan, it merely means that you are enjoying the food.
  • After you finish your meal, place the chopsticks on the chopsticks rest or on the table.
  • Toothpicks will be offered to remove food stuck in your teeth. While doing so, cover your mouth with your hand.
  • It is alright to leave food behind in your plate. Also, leave some food in your utensil to show that you full. Otherwise, your empty plate may be refilled by the host. If you don’t want more, just stick out your hand over your plate.
  • If someone offers you the last piece of a dish, it is considered as a mark of respect.
  • Let your host know when you are satisfied. It would please the host to know that you were fed well.
  • The Taiwanese people rap their knuckles on the table after a meal, which signifies gratitude.
  • If you wish to consume more tea, leave the top of your teapot open. This way, the waiter will know that he has to fill it up.
  • The host initialises the process of making toasts.
  • If you do not consume alcoholic beverages, do not cite moral reasons for justifying it. Instead, state health issues. Also, women do not usually consume alcoholic drinks.
  • If the dinner was hosted in a restaurant, offer to pay for the meal. The host will profusely decline, but he will appreciate your generosity. However, remember to host a meal of a similar level with him or her afterwards.
  • Just to be safe, go to a Chinese restaurant instead of a Western one.

Things you should know before going to Taiwan?

  • Family is given priority over other people. The relationship between parents and children is very strong here.
  • Remember to develop healthy relations with your Taiwanese counterparts as it will be valued over your qualifications. Once you get acquainted to an individual or a certain group of people, you are expected to be committed, loyal and concerned about each other’s matters.
  • Display of negative emotions in public is not encouraged.
  • Society comes before the individual when it comes to Taiwan. Hence, the good of the society with always be of higher priority than individual rights.
  • Avoid embarrassing people in public, be it small matters or bigger ones.
  • Education is given a lot of importance in Taiwan, and thus, you will meet many people with high educational qualifications.

Also Read: Business etiquette to follow in Taiwan

Last update on February 2, 3:31 pm by Nidhi S.