When you are on holiday, having all the time in the world, other cultures can be fun and exciting to explore. But when you are working or professionally travelling in other countries, cultural differences can cause quite a few obstacles on your way to get a project done.
Especially when cultures are very distinct from your own. Putting effort in understanding other cultures, can remove many barriers and help you achieve your goals with less effort and more pleasure. At first glance, another culture may seem impossible to understand. And maybe you even feel reluctant to make an attempt. But you might be surprised about the world that unfolds before you, and the things you might learn from it. All it takes is an open mind and the ability not to jump to conclusions.
When I first went to China, I suffered a horrible jetlag. As a consequence, I was sick during the first week. I went to see the client anyway, to get a team going on a project we started with them. While I was coughing around, my Chinese colleagues brought me hot water all the time. Of course I drank it, although it wasn’t really pleasant at an outside temperature of 32 degrees Celsius. Later I learned that many Chinese think that drinking hot water is good for health. That’s when I realized that my Chinese colleagues were actually trying to make my flu go away.
Here are 3 tips that could make cooperation with your Chinese colleagues a little easier and more enjoyable:
Tip 1: Criticism
In front of others (especially superiors), do not criticize anyone or question someone’s acts. Almost no-one likes to be criticized, but Chinese are especially sensitive to it. Making a Chinese “loose his face” or reputation, is one of the worst things that you can do. Even in case of small things, like opening a wrong document.
Tip 2: Verifying Comprehension
For that same reason of “losing face” or reputation, your Chinese colleague might say he understood what you just explained, although in reality he doesn’t. If he did not understand what you just explained to him, he could be trying to protect you from “losing your face” (for not having explained good enough). So don’t let this upset you! Instead, check up on him some time after explaining something to him, just to make sure he really got it right.
Tip 3: Creating Initiative
It can be difficult to get your Chinese colleagues to take initiatives. Many Chinese directly associate taking initiatives with punishments or loss of reputation for possible negative consequences. Therefore, if you want your Chinese colleagues to take initiatives, you should make it very clear what the rewards or advantages will be. And possibly take away any fear for punishments or loss of reputation.
I found these few tips to be very helpful during my trips to China and cooperation with my Chinese colleagues. Please feel free to share your experiences or comments below!
Recommended Project Management Software
If you’re interested in learning more about top rated project management software, the editors at Project-Management.com actively recommend the following:
Tackle complex projects with Wrike’s award-winning project management software. Break projects into simple steps, assign tasks to team members, and visualize progress with Gantt charts, Kanban boards, and calendars. Manage resource allocation and forecasting with software that’s easy to launch. Automation and AI features strip away time-consuming admin tasks so you can do the best work of your life. Streamline your practices, align your team, and ensure you hit deadlines and stay on budget.
Smartsheet is an online work execution platform empowering organizations of all sizes to plan, manage, automate, and report on work. Over 80,000 brands rely on Smartsheet for project and work management.
ClickUp is one of the highest-rated project management tools today. Use Docs, Reminders, Goals, Calendars, Chat, scheduling, assigned comments, custom views, & more with this all-in-one project management tool.
Used by 800,000+ teams in companies like Airbnb, Google, and Uber, it brings all of your projects into a single app! Built for teams of all sizes and industries, Our fully customizable & proprietary features make it a must-have for anyone wanting to keep project management in one place.