3 Do’s And Don’ts In Business Come Chinese New Year

Alas, another year has passed. And what an amazing year it was. The auspicious Chinese New Year is upon us again and as we all know, it is one of the most important days of the year here in South East Asia. Lanterns and lion dance troupes greet us everywhere we go, all in bright red, making our hearts feel warm and joyous.

This is also the time of the year where the great migration takes place. The central business district here in Singapore, as well as other South East Asia countries, transform into ghost towns akin to a post-apocalyptic movie!

There are many things we can learn from the Chinese traditions that are not only beautifully unique, but beneficial for the business as well! Superstitions and rituals are a very common part of their beliefs and they are very strict about it. So what are some of the things that we can observe from such a rich culture so we can be more respectful and aware? Let’s dive right into it.

Luck and fortune are words often used synonymously when it comes to Chinese culture and business. Some of the practices, you might have heard or seen before, like “Feng Shui” where the placement of a certain object or which way the architecture is facing plays a very important part in whether the business will acquire success or misfortune. Then there are others that are downright surprising yet interesting at the same time. Here are 3 do’s and don’ts for your business you might want to consider this Chinese New Year.


# 1 Have a Good Rest

Here in South East Asia, businesses close down for a few days (usually till the 8th day of Chinese New Year) for everyone to relax and take time off work. The reason for this is that the Chinese believe that everyone should wind down during the celebrations with their families and friends and “restart” the business fresh for the year. This way, we will all be energized and thus, be lucky and successful for the coming year ahead.

#2 Red is the New Black

Remember that red dress or shirt you’ve always wanted to wear but feel like it’s too loud to wear to the office? Now is the perfect opportunity to don it! The colour red symbolizes luck, joy, and happiness! But avoid wearing anything black, as in the culture, the colour black brings in misfortune and very closely related to “death”

#3 “8” is Great!

The significance of the number 8 in Chinese culture plays a very important aspect when it comes to wealth. The number 8 (八 sounds like 發 (fa)) which stands for “wealth”, “prosperity” and “fortune”. On the contrary, avoid using the number 4 as 四 sounds similar to 死 (sǐ) which translates to “Death”! These numbers should also be taken into consideration when dealing with potential clients and customers as well as co-workers too!

The 3 Don’ts

#1 You Sweep, You Weep

If there is still spring cleaning to be done, it should be done before the stroke of midnight before the Chinese New Year. This is because there is a belief that sweeping and cleaning the household or office on the auspicious days is akin to sweeping out the good fortune. We wouldn’t want that, would we?

#2 Don’t be in Someone’s Bad Books

This one comes as a surprise for many as giving books in the western culture is a norm as books represent knowledge and wisdom. But the same can’t be said when it comes to Chinese tradition. The word book (shū) sounds the same as the word “Lose”. And the belief is that the receiver will “lose” their luck and receive bad luck instead for the rest of the year!

#3 No-No Gifts!

Besides books, there are also other common items that might seem harmless to us but is a huge no to give. Clocks are very practical items but as a gift, the Chinese believe that it signifies “wishing an early death” for the receiver. It can also mean “parting” in distancing the relationship with others. Sharp objects are another item never to be given as one might interpret “severing the relationship”

Well, there you go! Amazing isn’t it, a culture so rich and colourful, integrated with the modern business world today. There are always new things to learn from the different cultures of the world and yet the Chinese traditions and taboos have always been the most unique and astounding.

With that, wishing everyone a prosperous and auspicious Chinese New Year, full of health, wealth and abundance!


We were founded with a vision to improve the world of work for everyone

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Through recruitment, training and consulting, Timeo-Performance provides solutions for increased performance of companies, teams, and individuals. As our clients are in the center of global business and often serve the APAC region, our solutions need to be sustainable in a multicultural and remote context.

Our joint venture with Akteos, the European leader in intercultural training, and partnership with digital learning solutions provider CrossKnowledge have therefore been organic and logical additions to our service. Timeo-Performance has been helping companies in APAC increase business performance since 2008 with offices in Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong.


Isabelle Larche

Managing Director, Recruitment & Executive Search at Timeo-Performance

Isabelle is a Human Performance expert, with over 10 years of professional recruitment experience, and 15 years of Business Management Consulting experience. Isabelle is the Vice President of the French Chamber of Commerce and Trade Counsellor (Singapore Chapter) to the French Embassy.

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