In March I wrote a post about the fact that Facebook means “doomed to die” in Chinese. I also mentioned some other East Asian misunderstandings. While I’m touring China, I see tons of other cultural differences that make the interaction between China and the west even more interesting. To give you an idea, I’ll highlight some examples the coming days.
Blogger and writer Shel Israel experienced one of those cultural differences first hand. He now has two sets of business cards – of which one is for Chinese people, as his normal business cards have lead to some misunderstandings while meeting web professionals here in China.
The card I got says “Writer. Speaker. Nice Guy” as his title and has the following Hugh MacLeod cartoon on the back:
But that’s not the one Israel hands out to Chinese business relations, he told me. “They don’t have the same kind of humor”, Israel says. “I had to explain what lifestyle I referred to and then they still didn’t get why anyone would put that on his card.” Joking around with your job title also didn’t have the planned effect. Some people actually thought that being a nice guy was an actual role in the American corporate world.
So take this lesson from Israel. If you have an original business card, think about the effect it can have on people from a different culture. Same goes for your personal branding online, of course.
Read next: Booklist 2.0: November 2008