Chinese-Western cultural dichotomies and their negative impact (#2 TRUST)

Jun 02, 2020

How do you decide 'when' and 'if' you can TRUST someone?

Is it based on intuition (your feelings), or do you utilize a set of key indicators to aid your decision?

For most people, TRUST is the cornerstone of all relationships, and once that trust is violated, it is typically lost forever. Some people say TRUST must be earned, which is to say it is not casually given to anyone.

Cultural Dichotomy #2: TRUST

So how do two people develop mutual trust when they defined it differently?

Most Americans or Westerners believe a person's trustworthiness is based on whether they are fair-minded, honest, and generous. In order words, it would be hard to trust someone perceived as selfish.

On the other hand, Chinese equate a person's trustworthiness as the likelihood they will reciprocate favors, goodwill, and exchange compliments known as the 'giving and receiving Face'. This is to say TRUST has virtually nothing to do with truthfulness or fairness, and it has more to do with behaviors most Westerners consider corrupt.

In practical terms for Westerners negotiating or building relationships with Chinese people, we need to train our minds to "think differently" about the relevance of TRUST, especially in our business relationships. We should focus our attention on our mutual expectations and how to maximize the probability that both sides are not disappointed.

As an example, Nepotism is expected in Chinese culture, so we need to understand how this is normal and learn to operate within those parameters. 

To learn more about The China Leadership Dilemma and/or to support my mission to reduce our cultural biases by learning to "think different" about Chinese people.

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