Saturday, May 31, 2008

Taking your shoes off…

For those of you who have dealt with the Chinese, you would know what I am talking about. It is absolutely a different experience when you do business with the Chinese. But here is the interesting part, when I say Chinese, these are not the Chinese that live in China. That’s right, the Chinese that live in China, they’re not Chinese, they’re some bunch of people who look like Chinese, sure they drink those herbal teas in their offices, and the talk Chinese, but the real Chinese, you find in Singapore, Taiwan, Hongkong, Thailand, Malaysia, well we’re really talking about non communist Chinese here.

From the moment you are about to enter their offices, the first thing that you have to do, is to take your shoes off. Now, I really do not have an issue with sitting bare feet or in my socks on a negotiation table, but hell, I was sitting on one last week, and I kept saying to myself, what on Gods sweet earth am I doing, I have no shoes on! I’ve negotiated for a decade now, yet this was the first time I was negotiating without my shoes on, hell its difficult. You know for anyone who takes his dressing from the English, shoes are what give you confidence, well, a nice starched shirt, cufflinks, good tie, creased trousers, they all stand for a lot, but, Shoes is what really gives you confidence. So im at this negotiation table, and we are negotiating, there are six Chinese Buddhists sitting around the table, and they all have no shoes on, absolutely barefeet. I’m telling this guy, you know, I’ve travelled half way around the world just to come see you, this is how important your business is to me, and this is how much respect my company gives to you, you will never get this from my competition, and I’m looking deep into his eyes. A decade of negotiation, and I normally make the kill at this point, by the time I stop looking deep into their eyes, they are shaking hands. But just as I am looking into his eyes, I feel my feet, so that’s what they mean cold feet! You just cannot be confident without shoes, its plain and simple as that.

And it gets even better, sure you have Feung Shui water dropping all over the place, there are fat statuettes of nominally clad bald men under whom water is running, and red colored markings that talk about religious shit that probably means lord help my refinery produce more oil, its not the statutory things that matter to me, they are intriguing, it’s the live things that make me upset. They take a look at you, and then they start staring, what you never saw a barefoot man walking around with a laptop before? The equation is just not right. And here is what is really intriguing, every time I have taken my shoes off, I have asked them, is this a Buddhist thing, is this feung shui, no, this is so that we don’t get the floor dirty, ah c’mon

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You take your shoes off and it makes u feel like ure negotiating on their terms. U know, following their rules. I think if they insisted you take your watch off or something it would still make u feel less confident.