Doing business in China part 2.
Wondering through any decent bookshop, in a decent airport, will uncover a dozen books (at least), of Chinese business protocol. They all have one common theme. foreign business people NEED to follow the correct protocol when dealing with the Chinese, or their business is DOOMED.If I was a Chinese business person, I would find this insulting. Are the Chinese so ignorant, that they have not studied Western business processes and/or protocols?The basic premise of every such book, is that the foreign business person, NEEDS to follow Chinese business protocol, without mention, of the Chinese having to make an effort to respect foreign business protocols. There must be a sucker born every minute, as these books sell.This is not to say understanding the way Chinese conduct business is not important. But, do not be fooled into thinking that the Chinese do not understand the importance of following and respecting foreign ways of doing business.Chinese, often have an issue with being direct, and tend to talk around a subject. However, many a manufacturer that I have dealt with, also know that foreigners tend to be more direct. Often, these books warn of the folly of deviating from the indirect approach. In my experience, when I see that a point is being talked around, I will take the initiative, and basically force the Chinese business person to get to the point. In many cases they seem relieved, and respect you for understanding an issue that does not sit well with them. Despite being taught not to be direct, the majority appreciate directness, if used in the correct way. I will concede the concept of "face" is important in Chinese society, but being direct will not result in a loss of "face".Being indirect is definitely inefficient in terms of business. An enormous amount of time can be saved by being direct, but with respect. It is the respect part, that is the crucial thing to get right.Look out for this next time you are in a meeting with a Chinese supplier, you WILL come across it. Work out a way of getting to the point, without dissing your Chinese supplier. You will be respected for it, and it might even be extremely beneficial to your business relationship.