Managing a cross-cultural negotiation is tricky and complicated affair at the best of times. When these negotiations occur in a foreign language environment it can be even more so, particularly if you allow yourself to become lost in the discussion. It is easy to feel left out of the loop when those around you are in discussion in a language you don't understand. You can feel distanced and become distracted, and it can impact on your natural communicative flow. Many challenges arise from the use of translators in business and it is how you manage these challenges that may well determine the ultimate success of your business negotiations.
In recent years we have seen growing demand for Australian food consumer goods such as milk powder, which has lead some Australian supermarkets to impose daily limits on the number of milk powder units that can be purchased in any single transaction. Similarly there have been great stories of the insatiable appetite for Australian wines in China, and particularly since the ratification of the China – Australia Free Trade Agreement in 2015. But does this apparent demand for Australian food and wine translate into huge market opportunities for our farmers, wine makers and premium food producers in China?
Conducting business in China can be a confronting affair, with the rules of engagement vastly different from what we would expect in many western countries. The number one rule when conducting business in China is to take it slow, develop your reputation or Guanxi, and build your relationships with the people you meet, whether they be business or government officials.