Can Abraham Maslow have made a mistake? His theory of psychological health premised on fulfilling innate human needs in order of priority culminating in self-actualization, is a known fact. But given the speed of change that is currently taking place everywhere, the 3rd level of human needs based on relations will perhaps need to be re-evaluated. The way the world is advancing is responsible for making people re-think, reconsider, and “unlearn” embedded ideas. Growth opportunities, expansion, and diversification make it imperative for companies to understand and adapt to local culture. Also, with global connectivity, the pace of advancements in technology dictates the way one learns, understands, and executes in a business context. An address by Valerie Hoeks brings forth different perspectives and 3 lessons that are entrenched in the Chinese culture come to the fore.
Valerie shares a thought that makes the listener think. For, who can imagine taking time out to visit our primary school teachers to have tea with them every week, every Sunday without fail? Or taking this a bit further, how often do we hear instances of employees of a company being in regular touch with their experienced and retired former colleagues? In China, such traditions are ‘alive and kicking,’ not just as traditions but as a belief system based on reciprocal favor.
For those in China, harmony, the second lesson that pertains to building relations, symbolizes a preference to the smooth running of a society or group. Checklists and deadlines don’t work. However, being patient and waiting for the ‘right moment,’ instead of pushing through some requests, is what works here.
The third, perhaps the most important lesson of knowing and working in China, is to know the meaning of ‘Minazi’ or the importance of face value. Almost anyone who has done business with China, or is planning to, has heard the term “face.” Western businessmen coming to China for the first time often hear about how important appearances are to the Chinese – but what does “face” really mean? “Face can be earned; it can be lost,” is a core thought that can yield positive benefits for business accomplishments. People in China detest making mistakes in public as loss of face and reputation determines their position in a social network.
The TedX Talk by Valerie Hoeks reveals many interesting insights into the Chinese way of life.