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Cross-Cultural Key: Building Relationships is Everything

This article was printed in the September 2014 issue of “Insight” Magazine

After each World Cup, I love finding more and more pub-going Americans enthusiastically chatting about European leagues, big money player transfers, even different coaching strategies. I get excited and think that means that they also actually love playing the game and might be interested in joining us on the pitch on Sundays. However, after asking that question, an awkward silence ensues and the conversation quickly turns in a different direction.

Executing on cross-cultural knowledge is much the same. Over the past few years while facilitating cross-cultural seminars throughout China, I find that most Westerners are more and more knowledgeable about how to deal with Chinese colleagues and clients. But, when it comes to turning that knowledge into a successful negotiation or partnership strategy, that´s a totally different story. If you live and work in China, you must not only know the rules of engagement, but also have to be able to play the game skillfully to win.

For example, one of the first lessons you learn when you step off the plane (or sometimes earlier) about business in China is that relationships are everything. However, how can one establish rapport with a Chinese colleague or client? Below are some practical easy to execute steps that can prove useful in your winning strategy.