Global small business or want to be? Read this. You need to understand a culture from their side of the fence, trying to see through your “current eyes” means you are probably missing the important points and worse, offending the other person (s).
Excerpt: A case in point: I facilitated an important global marketing meeting in Beijing not long ago with a U.S.-based multi-national food company, which had just purchased a specialty food product line from one of its rivals. The newly-adopted subsidiary had recently become a market leader under its old ownership, based mostly on very good market research that was informed and driven by a deep cultural understanding of the habits and behavioral preferences of the average urban Chinese.
The new owners sent their US team to participate in a strategy session, a discussion of where this Chinese subsidiary believes its market is heading and how it must respond to new and mounting competitive threats. The U.S. team set about asking questions as they would do in any meeting in the U.S. They tried to be sensitive to their hosts and believed they were treading lightly. To their surprise, the Chinese nationals reacted defensively to even the smallest and seemingly most innocent questions. “Who were these ‘outsiders’ telling us about our market?” In essence, perhaps without recognizing it, the Americans slighted them without even knowing how or why