Can anything be learned from this that would help us deal with Chinese-run businesses in England or elsewhere?
Most Chinese restaurants in today's western society are anglicised, offering knives, forks spoons etc which shows they are acclimatised to our etiquette. But if dealing with owner parents or grandparents within the premises, the way you present yourself as a salesperson must be different to the way you pitch the neighbouring American steak bar bar.
In circumstances where I have met first generation Chinese business owners the difference in their attitude versus the younger family members is noticeable. When handing a business card to someone who is first generation Chinese, you must use both hands to present it. Do not casually offer it with one hand. This simple attention to detail will be appreciated and count towards building rapport.
Before approaching someone of another culture think about who you’re dealing with. How might they conduct themselves in business and how do they feel about sales people? How do you come across? Like the old proverb says: “Softly softly catchy monkey."
- Read up on business in foreign cultures. This extra effort might just give you the edge over the competition.
- Alan Sugar's autobiography What You See Is What You Get recalls amusing encounters with one "Emperor Otake", the boss of a Japanese manufacturing plant during the 1980's. Otake's behaviour and need to save face both amused and irritated "Sugar-San" in a clash of Eastern and Western business values. It's very funny and insightful too.