Norms are the rules that determine the behaviors which are acceptable in a society. Just like in most Chinese houses where food is not passed around the table, but remains at the center, when two or more people jointly order to be served at the restaurant, caterers place food at the center of the table. The restaurant doesn’t expect the customers to remove it from the center. It is the host who serves the rest of the group members from the center. The restaurant expects each customer to leave a small portion of the meal in his or her plate, as it considers being impolite to clear everything in a plate. The restaurant also expects every customer, whether they intend to use spoons or not, to wash their hands before eating. They consider it impolite to eat without washing hands. The person who orders meals in a group is the one expected to pay. The cashier always asks one who orders money, though any person in the group can pay.
Symbols are things that people attach meaning to and use them for communication. The restaurant’ staff and customers communicate through gestures that are understood by each party. Fingers may be used to depict the cost of food or the balance. One figure shows that either the food costs one dollar or there is a balance of one dollar, depending on the person using the gesture. Two fingers represent two dollars, three fingers represent three dollars, etc. when a customer nods his or her head – it indicates that he or she is satisfied with the restaurant’s services. Shaking of head by customers, on the other hand, shows dissatisfaction. Other gestures used in the restaurant include raising hand by customers indicating that the customer wants to inquire more or needs some service, and showing a thumb indicating satisfaction.
Money is another symbol the hotel uses for communication. When a customer enters the hotel, he/she orders and pays for food. The customer is then issued with a receipt which indicates that he/she has paid for the service. The receipt is finally taken to the service counter where the customer gets served. A part from ordering for meals at the cashier’s counter, the rest of the processes proceeds even without verbal communication.
Language is a tool for communication. People express their thoughts and ideas by the use of language. The restaurant’s staff speaks both Chinese and English. They are friendly to customers and use polite language, while communicating to customers. This makes them attract and retain more customers.
Cultural norms are the rules that determine the way people behave and interact. They are learned since the childhood from friends, parents and relatives. People apply their cultural norms while socially interacting with others. This is also seen in the interaction between the businesses and their customers. Society that does not uphold its cultural norms is a dying society.