MAIN difference between Chinese and WesternersJan 07, 2020
What are the MAJOR differences that matter for improving communications, collaboration, and cooperation?
SOME DIFFERENCES ARE IRRELEVANT
For example, knowing that Chinese prefer to eat with chopsticks, while Westerners are accustomed to eating with a knife and fork.
This is irrelevant because knowing this doesn't improve your understanding of cross-cultural differences between Chinese and Westerners.
SOME DIFFERENCES ARE MISINTERPRETED
For example, saying Chinese (Mainland) live under authoritarianism, while Westerners live in a democracy doesn’t solve anything except to sow greater division and divisiveness.
SOME DIFFERENCES ARE TOO ABSTRACT
For example, saying Chinese think in a circular manner while Western logic is more linear and rational. Believing this will rarely if ever lead to a different approach or attitude adjustment.
And it surely won't make your Chinese counterparts trust you more or want to be more honest in their approach with you.
In essence, NOTHING CHANGES from knowing or studying these types of differences.
The DIFFERENCES THAT MATTER are more fundamental, so you can learn to empathize with Chinese people in the proper cultural context AND naturally adjust your attitude, mindset, and approach…
This will enable you to dramatically increase the likelihood of a more favorable and rewarding outcome doing business in China.
Now, let's briefly summarize the MAJOR cultural differences that matter….
MAJOR Cultural Difference #1: TRUTH
• Westerners believe in ABSOLUTE truth (that focuses on literal meanings and definitions)
• Chinese believe in RELATIVE truth (which is a more figurative way of communicating)
MAJOR Cultural Difference #2: TRUST
• Westerners tend to trust people they perceive as HONEST
• Chinese tend to trust people they perceive will give them PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT, in other words, those they have Guanxi relationships with
MAJOR Cultural Difference #3: AUTHORITY
• Westerners are taught to obey RULES and LAWS
• Chinese are conditioned to obey PEOPLE (who have the authority to selectively enforce the laws)
This means doing business in China requires you to understand how to navigate and manage the many different shades of gray.
Understanding these MAJOR cultural differences will enable you to develop greater cultural awareness and empathy towards Chinese people …. And this will lead you to a more rewarding and prosperous experience in China.
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