Back to my last name. A day in my life is probably very different from yours. First off, most of the clocks in my house are set to military time. (It’s a European thing) I am familiar with temps in Celsius, have measuring cups in deciliters, and the soccer channel is a big hit on weekends. But being married to someone from another country is far different than working with a client from one.
I recently had the pleasure of planning a meeting for a Chinese automotive supply company, whose US headquarters are located here in Michigan. I dealt mainly with the US office, but had weekly evening calls with China closer to the actual event date. Yet even when working with the US office, the answers to simple questions would take a day or two before a response was given. Everything was run past China first.
So not only was there a time barrier to overcome, but a language barrier as well. My clients were wonderful, and very respectful on the phone. Prior to speaking with them, I freshened up on my Chinese culture. Values are very important to the Chinese. And so are colors and numbers. So over a bowl of sweet and sour chicken, I took notes on how to act, what to say and what to expect. I tried to put myself in their shoes. My clients would be traveling a long distance, and I wanted to make sure they had all the comforts of home when they arrived. Slippers were waiting in each guest room, hot tea was available in the library, and rice porridge was an option at breakfast.
Just because a foreign client plans a meeting in the US does not mean it needs to feel foreign to them. In the end, we were all working towards one goal; to have a successful meeting with happy attendees. And a smile is a pretty universal thing.
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