In this study, 79 Chinese and non-Chinese working professionals responded to an employability-skills survey. They were asked to identify key language and intercultural proficiencies that would allow non-Chinese professionals to work more effectively with Chinese colleagues and clients. All participants work or worked in multilingual and multicultural settings from a limited set of business sectors and job positions in mainland China. Quantitative data suggest that the participants consider intercultural competence to be the most valuable skill in global work settings. Intercultural competence includes the ability to collaborate with colleagues and clients of different nationalities, the ability to adapt to Chinese problem-solving norms when conflicts arise, and the flexibility to apply Chinese cultural practices inside and outside the workplace. Notably, a significant mean difference exists between the Chinese and non-Chinese participants concerning adaptability to Chinese norms around conflict. Regarding language proficiency, the participants identified conversational competence as the most important skill for interpersonal communication at work and beyond, placing less emphasis on the ability to read formal documents and correspondence in Chinese. This analysis attempts to suggest pedagogical guidance for Chinese and other business language educators seeking to develop sustainable business language curricula that meet the demand for a globally competent workforce.
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