Recently the Chinese president, Xi Jinping and “first lady”, Peng Liyuan, visited Trinidad & Tobago my home country and caused quite a stir when he held an umbrella over his wife’s head. A gesture not so common in most Asian countries: China’s First Lady Peng Liyuan Brings Rare Glamour to U.S. Summit With Obama
Let’s put this simple act of politeness in perspective. With over a billion in population and more than one-seventh of the world’s population, China has quickly emerged as a global economic powerhouse that’s destined to be a dominant player on the world scale. Many forecasters have predicted that by the year 2030, China will become the world’s largest economy, overtaking the United States of America. In the same way that American pop music and Hollywood cinema has infiltrated and influenced the way so many people dress, speak, act socially and behave; so too we can expect that China would have a cultural influence on the world, whether its music, arts, crafts, dance, theatre or role models such as the Chinese Head of State, Xi Jinping and “first lady”, Peng Liyuan.
With China known to be a very male dominated society, many Chinese women felt very proud when their leader held the umbrella over his wife’s head promoting that women should be respected. It’s the sort of humble approach to leadership, and basic display of good manners that has been noticeably absent from the public behaviour of many politicians. This approach demonstrates that some heads of state embrace the need to positively reach out to people by simple acts of humility and modesty; traits which are highly regarded as traditional virtues considered to have been lost over the last couple of decades.
We covered a similar meeting between cultures in our 2012 blog entitled “President Obama in Myanmar- A kiss is just a kiss…“.
Being involved in a global profession that interacts on a daily basis with different cultures and people from every continent around the globe, we understand that in order to interact well with other cultures, we need to spend time understanding other cultures. It is important global professionals adapt their communications, style and application of basic manners to suit the culture in which they find themselves. The ability to assimilate across cultures affords us an opportunity to better design our approach to working with businesses and consumers in various cultures. This is true whether we meet face-to-face, over the telephone or communicate information through marketing collateral such as brochures, video or a website.
Culture (and the manners that go with a culture) strategically fits in with every day business, it’s interwoven into everything that we do. So much in that it’s the moment of truth upon which your customers decide on the spot whether they will do business with you or not.