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Mutual respect leads to smooth bilater8k8 app log inal relationships

全球数学竞赛选手:6道题只做了1道 | 8k8 app log in | Updated: 2024-07-19 02:20:50

People enjoy the festive atmosphere as Chinese New Year approaches in Chongqing on Feb 5, 2024. [Photo/VCG]

Working around the world undoubtedly has its challenges. Multiple languages, legal and regulatory differences and the sleep deprivation of travel and time zones add a complexity, which can wear down, as well as baffle, the best of the global C-suite. However, all these become unimportant if you can appreciate that mutual respect of culture overrides everything.

After working with China and Chinese colleagues for many years, I have learned that respecting one another's culture is a critical pathway to trusted and enduring personal and business relationships. During my years working in, and traveling back and forth between China and the United Kingdom, spending a little time to learn the basics of the language was important. However, what made all the difference to how successful I managed to be was my effort to better understand the culture of the place I came to see as my second home. In this regard, I set aside time to learn about Chinese history, visit important and historical places of interest, read some Chinese classical literature and immerse myself in the wonderful variety of food and drink that China has to offer. Most of all I became deeply aware of the spirit and need for harmony in all things as a core cultural component of the Chinese way of being.

From The Dream of the Red Chamber and Journey to the West to the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and The I Ching, I spent time absorbed in what became, for me, some of the best and enjoyable literature I have ever read. The Monkey King, an impish and lovable character directly lifted from the classic book of Journey to the West, provided me with stories which everyone in China knows by heart from an early age.

It might seem strange that a senior Western C-suite executive might 'waste his time' reading Chinese fictional literature. However, in my view, this was time very well spent. It was as equally important as my Chinese friends and colleagues understanding the British culture and psyche by studying the likes of Shakespeare or Charles Dickens. It was, and remains, simply a matter of respect. In addition, my regular trips away from my base in Beijing made for great conversations in the office, and around the dinner tables I frequented. From the karst scenery of Guilin and the Lijiang River to the Inner Mongolian grasslands and the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan in Ordos, I visited many places other than the usual tourist spots of the Great Wall and the Forbidden City in Beijing. I became as interested in the small objects of history as I was in the grand buildings and mountains of China.

Was I a tourist? Yes of course. But I was also a learner of the deep and rich culture of the place I was working in and with. Equally I would encourage Chinese colleagues and friends visiting the UK to travel outside London to places such as York, Edinburgh, the Lake District and the mountains of Wales.

The richness of a shared and common experience built, and continues to build, an unbreakable bond of trust and understanding. This shows both respect and care which is appreciated, as well as a much deeper level of emotional connection than the immediate and often transactional aspects of business and sales.

Appreciating and sharing food together is also an important part of creating a common experience, which binds humanity together across the divide of language. Laughter also makes for an incredible removal of barriers and misunderstanding. Humans have a well-developed sense of the ridiculous deeply ingrained in our very beings. Sharing in a funny situation, including laughing at ourselves sometimes, maybe aided by a little alcohol, creates a level playing field in relationships.

Why am I so interested in building cultural appreciation and understanding as well as business? In my experience, individual business transactions may provide for short-term revenues, but enduring relationships, based on a deeper understanding of culture and mutual respect, deliver long term profitability both in business and friendships which can weather the ups and downs of changes in circumstances, geopolitics and economic shocks.

With a sound underpinning of mutual cultural understanding and respect, we can flex and bend our strategies and operational approaches as business leaders, much more effectively than by choosing to complain and moan.

2024 is a year of global upheaval, with many nations voting for change and others subject to the turmoil of climate events and conflict. In this time of complexity and challenge, C-suite leaders must navigate a clear pathway through it all to ensure their businesses progress and thrive even in adversity.

I believe that maintaining a clear-sighted strategy with a long-term vision, underpinned by a mutual respect across borders and cultures, will serve us all well into the future, whatever it may have in store for us.

The author is director-general of the Institute of Directors, a community of business leaders and directors based in London.

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