TRUST: East vs West

Idea

The Peoples Republic of China is the world's second-largest economy and executives in USA should understand cultural differences to build successful, high-quality relationships with Chinese counterparts.

American culture considers you trustworthy until you do something that breaks the trust. In China, the culture moves toward “distrust”. You'll have my trust when you’ve proven yourself worthy of it.

The Chinese say “early birds get shot” Qiang da chu tou niao, which reflects the strong desire to avoid social risks. Clearly this attitude does not invite people easily to engage in a more American-like trust giving process.

Once relationships take off with Chinese, keep building on this foundation. It is important that the Chinese person feels that a sense of benevolence exists, which will make for good relationship in the long term.

Please, know that although building trust with Chinese folks is a highly participative and time consuming activity, the level of trust that can be achieved could last forever.

As the popular Chinese saying goes: Once a promise is made, it cannot be withdrawn, not even with the forces of horses: Yi yan ji chu, si ma nan zhui.