It was a historic day in 1972. An elegantly dressed lady steps out of a plane, walks down a set of stairs onto a tarmac in China. It was the first time she had ever set foot in this mystifying country, and was only mildly familiar with its culture. Yet, she immediately connected. Her outfit vibrantly stood out against the subdued background and sombre clothing of her entourage. It captured the lenses of the photographers waiting for her on the tarmac. It captured the hearts of the people of China.
The First Lady, Patricia Nixon, intelligently chose to wear a classic red coat for her historic arrival in China. It was not so much the style of the coat that elevated her, or even the contrast it created with the surrounding colours. It was the message that the colour ‘red’ transmitted to the hearts and minds of the people of China. You see, red is an auspicious colour in China. It represents fortune, joy, happiness, and good luck. With just one coat, one colour, she immediately impressed. It was a simple decision, yet intelligently influential.
Cultural intelligence was her asset. It’s a unique understanding of what makes people in other cultures tick. It’s about knowing how to bridge cultural gaps and create smoother connections.
In the 10 years I have lived outside of my home country, I’m constantly reminded of this cultural gap. For even the simplest tasks, what I consider to be ‘normal’ or ‘appropriate’ is not always what others consider to be ‘normal’ or ‘appropriate’. Here are a few things that I’d like to share with you from my experience:
- Handshakes should not always be firm.
- Direct eye contact is not always a good thing.
- Interrupting others can sometimes help conversation flow.
- Finishing all the food on your plate can send the wrong message.
Cultural Intelligence and You
Just as Patricia Nixon understood the colour ‘red’ would ring happiness and fortune in the hearts of the people of China, you can use cultural intelligence to click with your clients or business connections from different cultures.
BUY: Audio Presentation Kit on Business Etiquette in China and India
If you would like to get started on your journey for cultural intelligence, then begin with my digital product below. Based on a presentation I gave in Geneva, Switzerland, I have created an Audio Presentation Kit on Business Etiquette in China and India. If you would like to build your cultural intelligence and learn more about doing business in these two important countries, simply click the ‘Buy Now’ button below, or visit my Products page to find out more and listen to a sample audio of the product.