BusinessForum China

Over the past several years, I have been a regular contributor to the “Opinion” section of BusinessForum China, a bi-monthly magazine published by the German Chamber of Commerce. Founded nine years ago, the magazine’s objective is to inform members of the international community about the latest developments in business and the economy in China. It represents the combined experience and advice of professionals in China and abroad and provides regular updates on the most recent happenings in law and taxes, human resources, WTO, the environment, trade fairs and venues.

BusinessForum China is distributed to all members of the German Chamber of Commerce and other international institutions and organizations in China. The magazine is now available online, making it more convenient for me to pass along my articles in their entirety to MTD readers.

My most recent article, “Don’t Pick Fights in China,” distills into one article some of the advice I have been giving to companies and individuals operating in China over the years. Due to cultural differences and miscommunication, conflicts with partners, customers or government organizations are inevitable in China. While disputes cannot always be avoided, solving them in a friendly manner, with minimal damage to a company’s business becomes an important skill for anyone doing business in the country.

In the article, I cite the recent cases of Google and Danone and provide the following five rules for resolving disputes in China:

Rule No. 1: Keep in mind the age-old axiom that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The best way to resolve disputes in China is never to get into them in the first place.

Rule No. 2: If a dispute arises, listen carefully and make every effort to understand your counterpart’s position.

Rule No. 3: Resolve to settle your differences through friendly negotiations.

Rule No. 4: Enlist the support of individuals and organizations that may act as intermediaries.

Rule No. 5: Always remember that going to court is truly the court of last resort.

In the article, I also introduce my “cold shower approach to decision making.”

In China, it’s always best to resist the temptation to make snap decisions. Just when you think you know enough to make a decision, take a cold shower and think some more before acting.

To learn how both Google and Danone might have benefited from this advice, click here.

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