Founder and Event Host at The Cross-Cultural Performance Forum
Every person is an individual, and as individuals, we all have the fundamental right to chose our actions and make our decisions based on our unique set of values and core beliefs.
It is only natural for us to believe that our personal choice is usually the best approach. This is human nature.
However, in my experience, more times than not, choices based on habits, and especially those derived from emotions, will often be counter productive to one’s goals and objectives.
This paradox of choosing to say or do what we believe is “best” is especially meaningful in cross-cultural business situations where most individuals fail to further advance their goals and objectives because they chose to follow their own natural inclinations.
This is most often cultural, but it is also derived from pride, ego, and the need for “face”. The disadvantage many individuals create for themselves is they fail to consider the perception of others. When we fail to consider the perceptions of those we interact with, we also fail to acquire greater discretionary efforts from those who can positively or negatively affect our intended outcomes.
This means in the best-case scenario, people will support us only because they have to, but in the worse case, we receive lip service while we are bad-mouthed or sabotaged behind our backs.
By the time we realize we are not proceeding toward our goals, it is usually too late. There are too many antagonists hindering our greater alignment, teamwork, and ultimately our greater success. Of course this is an extreme example, but we should all be able to appreciate how the negative perception of others could have an adverse affect on our personal success.
The good news is we can improve our chances of success by consciously managing the perceptions of those we interact with.
This is called “Perception Management”.
Good perception management means we are always mindful to leave others feeling that they are understood, that their opinions are acknowledged, which means being a good listener, and their goals and objectives are fully considered, even when there are conflicting interests or professional disagreements.
So how can this be accomplished?
At EME, we call it AMA Values. First, we must understand our own AMA values, and then we need to understand how our AMA values are different from someone else’s. Once we have this understanding, we can then consciously adjust our communication tactics to get others better aligned with our own thought processes. We can use this knowledge to create positive perceptions of ourselves.
AMA stands for Attitude, Mindset, and Approach. AMA values come primarily from one’s culture, environment, and experiences, so every individual is different, but there are major groups of people that have enough similarities from which we can reasonably categorize how we should adjust our own AMA values to maximize the effectiveness of our interactions with them.
From the Chinese perspective, one such group we should recognize a need to consider is Westerners, in a predominately English-speaking global business environment.
Today’s international business can generally be thought of as an American-based system of universally agreed norms, rules, and regulations, defining what is fair, for commercial and financial relations, how intellectual property is defined and protected, and how disputes are to be settled, etc. etc.
This American-based system has been the de facto international trading system since the end of World War Two and the signing of the Bretton Woods Agreement by all 44 Allied Nations. This international trading agreement has been in place since even before the Communist Party of China was established in 1949.
This is why, as an individual Chinese professional, it is advantageous for me to understand “Western Business” AMA values, so I can successfully manage their perceptions of me to create the greatest advantage for myself. I can overcome any negative stereotypes, with the attitude and approach that I take in my communications and general business interactions.
If I can align disparate AMA values toward a common win-win outcome, then I will be on the path towards greater success on a global stage in multicultural environments.
Gene Hsu is across-cultural business thinker, writer, instructor, career mentor, and enterprise performance management consultant that focuses on developing context-based learning tools, concepts, and workshops to improve cross-cultural communications and business relationships between Chinese and Western mentalities.
Gene is founder of EME Career Consultants, a platform for empowering Chinese professionals with greater confidence to succeed on a global stage in multicultural environments.
For Westerners: “A Mindset for China Business” workshops
For Chinese: IGC (Increasing Global Competitiveness) training courses