In today’s ADD ADHD acronym filled world, listening has become a lost art. I personally think this plays a huge role in business. I seem to always run into people that want to talk for the sake of talking. It complicates when 2 of these people have a conversation – It’s like a verbal boxing match and they wonder why I’m so quiet. Hmmmm. Well, it’s even more important when working with China. You have to be careful how you communicate to be successful. If you think just being at the factory and talking to them about what you want is the cure, you are wrong.
English is a second language for China – and as you remember from 10th grade Spanish, it’s a lot easier to read Spanish than hear it. Pictures, written descriptions should make up about 3/4ths of your content. Communication in short, non-slang, easily understood words should be used to summarize what is needed. My most successful trips are the ones where the information is sent a week before the meeting, let them review and then discuss in a meeting when I get there. By meeting I mean LISTENING to their questions, comments and responding. I want to learn how much they understand, how much they don’t understand and do they plain “get it”. Hard to decipher this when you just speak to speak and watching them nod their heads.
Real World Example: Client had their product, knew how it was to be made, went to China and told them what to do. The meeting was just the President and VP explaining the equipment, processes and critical dims and there was no deviating from that. Through all this talking they never really listened or stopped to UNDERSTAND what the factory is good at – more importantly in this instance what China is good at. Frustrated at the price they were receiving, I stepped in to see if I could help. The factory said they could not speak or communicate that the process they want (the way they want it done) is not efficient. You see in USA we engineer labor OUT of products to make it more automated, in China the exact opposite is true, they engineer LABOR into products since the cost of labor is substantially lower. After understanding the issue, I spoke with the company and explained what was going on. It was a huge paradigm shift for these businessmen – one I’m sure they won’t forget for a while. Best yet, the client and the factory ended up having a great relationship going forward
Summary: Ask yourself, do you listen or wait to talk…..be honest.
Posted by Joel Buckley
Specialized in product development, sourcing, marketing and branding