By Ron Cune
Coming from a country such as Holland, people are not used to others bragging about money or possessions. A good dose of self-confidence is considered healthy and it’s totally acceptable to talk about personal achievements as long as we avoid talking about materialistic success. Being proud of your expensive car in front of the door, talking about prices of a newly bought boat or mentioning the price of wine to your guest will more than likely bring you the opposite of respect.
In China it’s exactly the opposite; many Chinese hosts “show off” with their 2 or even 3 newly bought sports cars, the price of their golf membership or how much money his wife spends on shopping. Possessions reveal your position on the Chinese social ladder. The idea is that in order to own exclusive products one needs access to an exclusive network of people.
However, your Chinese companion will seldom put himself in the spotlight proving his status. On some occasions, another member of the Chinese team may emphasize the achievements and background of your host. He or she would never do that directly.
While bragging about material possessions is frowned upon by many European businessmen, Chinese parties consider someone who talkes about their own personal achievements pedantic or even insulting.
When preparing a company introduction to your Chinese counterparts you should emphasize those parts that you would be modest about in Europe. At the end the statistics, figures and facts and even management certificates will contribute more to the desired result than explaining the company’s philosophy and management style.
Ron Cune, DragonDancers