In China, trust is important for successful business ventures. Usually trust will be placed in persons that you have known for a long time, such as family members or schoolmates. These are people that you have grown up to trust and who have proven themselves trustworthy over a period of time. There is a Chinese expression, "lu yao zhi ma li, ri jiu jian ren xin" - You will know a horses strength over many miles and a mans heart over many days - this time-tested saying tells us that strong relationships take time, signaling us that we must be prepared to wait.
Trust does not come quickly to the Chinese; it takes the passing of time and the passing of tests to feel trust in a person or business partner. Fear of the unknown is always lingering in the background when interacting with unfamiliar people and in unfamiliar places; even different cities in the homeland may be considered a risk. A person from Beijing may not trust a person from Guangzhou, whom they may know fairly well, as quickly as they would another person from Beijing whom they just met.
While interacting with Chinese businesses and establishing relationships with Chinese partners, it is important that you do so by avoiding misunderstandings that could fester distrust. How do you go about doing this? First, you need to enter into the relationship with an attitude that you may not be perceived as you think, and what you perceive may not be what it seems. Some interactions that seem perfectly "normal" and "acceptable" to you may be out of the question for your Chinese partner. Do what you can to avoid a faux pas as in China there is no easy make up for mistakes.
It would also be a good idea to have someone who can assist you to bridge the "cultural-Linguistic" gap. When choosing this person you should seek out someone with whom you feel comfortable, someone who you know understands your culture and communicates clearly with you in your language. Next, they need to be able to carry your ideals and communicate your messages across to your Chinese counterpart; ultimately forming a catalyst for positive business relations. Note that the most important aspect is that this person is in tune with you, if there is any doubt of that then you should continue looking. If they cannot communicate with you freely and understand your ideals and objectives with ease they will not be able to optimize for your communication needs. You will ultimately be wasting your time.
About the Author
By Todd Cornell.