I have lived in Thailand for almost 5 years and conduct a lot of business here. Asia is booming. Analysts predict that Asia is going to be the place to do business in the future. However, your ability to be able to conduct business successfully in Asia will be contingent on your understanding of Asian traits. These traits run through most Asian cultures and are very evident when you try to do business here. Knowing and understanding these traits and using them to your advantage can help you be a success in business in Asia.
- Don’t make an Asia lose face. To an Asian, losing face is often worse than death. Losing face means to lose your dignity, and is not acceptable in Asia. Most Asians, if they make a bad decision in business, will never admit it. They just pretend it didn’t happen or it happened because that’s what they meant to happen. So if you want to be successful in business in Asia, never cause an Asian to lose face. If you help them ‘save face’ you will be successful in any business in Asia. If you point out their faults and mistakes and cause them to lose face or lose their dignity, your successful business days in Asia are numbered.
- Be calm. The Thais call it “jai yen”, having a cool heart. In most Asian countries, this is very important. In Asia, if you lose your cool and start screaming and yelling, you will have ‘lost face’. Losing face makes you look like a fool, and makes most Asian back away from you. Doing business with somebody who is not calm, is not something most Asians will continue to do for very long. They prefer to work with somebody who is calm and polite, as they think you will be a more effective and smarter business partner. If you lose your temper, you’re too unpredictable. So stay calm, and your success in business in Asia will be guaranteed.
- Have patience. Most Asians seem to have very little concept of time. They’ll invariably arrive at meetings late and be very unconcerned that they kept you waiting. Traffic is bad in many Asian countries, so they do have an excuse – Thai Time or Indian Time is the result of this excuse, consistently arriving late. If most Asians tell you a certain time, you can safely add 15-30 minutes to it (the Japanese are an exception to this rule). But you must have patience and, when they eventually arrive, shrug it off as though it’s not important. Patience is required in almost every event in Asia, but having it will ensure you’re successful in business here.
- Honor. In most Asian societies, honor is very important. Just like the British, an Asian man’s word is his bond. He may take a while to make a decision, but when he does, he’ll stick to it. Having the same honor in business in Asia, will mean you are trusted more and business contacts will come back to you to conduct further business. Go back on your word and lose your honor, and many Asians won’t deal with you again.
- The importance of family. The family will always be more important than business in Asia. If a mother or father is sick, their family will classify this as more important than their jobs. Traveling halfway across the country won’t phase an Asian if their family is involved, and all holidays will be spent with family. As a boss, don’t expect your Asian employees to do work-related activities on a holiday. They will already have plans with family, and these cannot and will not be broken. As an employee in Asia, bringing small gifts for a boss’s family will go down well. As a business owner or boss, supporting your employees’ family needs will bring you loyalty. And as a Westerner wanting to conduct successful business in Asia, being aware of your business partner’s family and any family issues will go a long way to your ultimate business success.
- Be self-effacing. Asians don’t always understand the American way of telling everybody how good you are. Asian believe in modestly and being self-effacing. If somebody compliments you, saying a polite “thank you” is enough. There’s no need to go into a long soliloquy about how much better you are than the next guy.
Last but not the least, you should always uphold the value of excellence. In everything you do in business, it is important to be competitive, exert effort and commit on your time. You should also be able to invest in technologies like the best free CRM software tools provide small businesses.
With these few simple traits, you can markedly improve your business experience in Asia and ensure your long-term business success. After all, “When in Rome……” or in this case, “When in China…….”