BE CALM

I was on a trip to Qingdao to visit printing mills for a retail program that required packaging inserts. I had a colleague from our home office with me and we went out to visit three printing factories one day. These mills were on the very outskirts of Qingdao and it was a full day's journey by car. One mill had limitations about the size of inserts they could do and my colleague, perhaps not used to the summer heat, became very angry, even refusing to accept the business card of the mill owner when it was presented to him, an unspeakable breach of etiquette in China which left the mill owner seething. When I apologized for my colleague's conduct the mill owner told me that there were two types of foreigners who do business in China: those who respected China and observed its customs and those who did not respect China and were there just to profit from China's cheap labor pool. Needless to say, you do not want to fall into this second group. A couple of years later, we were looking for a printing mill for inserts for another project. The mills we had been to in Qingdao were all good. But, of course, we could not go back.

When you do business in China, you will inevitably encounter occasions which will make you angry. But do not lose your temper in front of your host unless you are unquestionably justified in doing so. Even then, ask yourself if you are prepared to possibly burn a bridge that you may need to cross later.

THE EAST ASIA COMPANY