Business Etiquette – How To Succeed In The East


Business Etiquette –  How To Succeed In The East

There are many cultural differences between the Eastern and Western way of doing business that frequently lead to either lost business or very short-lived commercial partnerships.

Cultural differences underpin a range of business relationships in ways that are not immediately apparent and are often deeply hidden.

The following framework is a good starting point for mapping out how to make that critical business meeting a success.

  • Cherish the past: the western way is to consider what has gone in the past as largely irrelevant and hence worthless. The eastern way is that the past really does matter: the Japanese in business meetings will spend a considerable amount of time going over past transactions and historical touching points between the parties. We want to get to the point, make the deal and get out of there: the Japanese want you to appreciate and consider the past before moving forward. Be patient! This is a very slow burner and much can be lost through wanting to rush the process.
  • Exploit Late Mover Advantage: our way is to get into the zone first, pitch aggressively first and be the first to make an offer therefore exploiting the lazy and disinterested (possibly!) competition. Our view is that those who move first get the business. The Chinese prefer to hold the process up in a way that actually going last pays the best dividends. In this way you can get to see how your rivals pitch and seek out business and then learn to fine tune your approach from this. In The Art Of War Sun Tzu proposed playing a waiting game where being the first-mover would NOT always be an advantage.
  • Go Slow To Go Fast: we seek out a way into the negotiation, milk the opportunity and then get out – quickly. More time is spent in Asia thinking about how to do things, building up relationships and then creating and delivering a strategy. The approach here is to spend a long time thinking about developments and then enacting them very quickly. It is all about HOW you are coming across and doing things and not the speed of the process.
  • Recast Charisma: our approach is to have the charisma of someone who can rule the room through verbal skills and physical presence, using humour and funny stories to ensure we are heard. In Eastern cultures the charismatic leader is one who can draw people to them through sheer presence where there is absolutely no need to be loud, brash or intimidating.
  • Become comfortable with silence: hounding your counterpart for an answer, any answer for you to build upon is an essential in our business philosophy (think Overcoming Objections!!) and where silence is seen as being deeply uncomfortable. In the Eastern cultures silence is part of the time taken to formulate an appropriate response to a question or a statement. Always allow colleagues time to formulate their responses and to not allow time for this puts you at a distinct disadvantage.

Good Luck!

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