Author: Emily Kluge

What is Guanxi?

Chinese and Western business practices are similar in the sense that “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” The extent of which this is true is even greater in China. But Chinese networking, known as Guanxi, is unique. This post explains guanxi and offers best practices for a beginner interested in developing guanxi.

Crash Course: Chinese “contract-less” Contracts vs. Western Contract Culture

There is a stark difference between Chinese business practices and Western business practices regarding contracts. This is not a superficial difference, nor a mere matter of outward custom. Rather, the presence of contracts in Western business – and minimal role of contracts in the Chinese context – reveals a deep divide in thinking about obligations, property rights, respect, social hierarchies, and relationships. There are two senses of the word “contract-less” in this blog: first, it refers to the lack of contracts and second, to the varying, sometimes minimal, importance of contracts.

Although contracts seem to provide the greatest security, there is also security in the alternative – IF you understand how to navigate relationships. This is s simple yet comprehensive, cross-cultural guide to contracts.

Interview with a Chinese Communist Party Member: What makes a Great Leader? Answer: 造福万代

My “interview” started with a four-hour tour at the Panda Base in Chengdu, Sichuan, to location of China’s largest panda breeding program.  My tour guide, Sherry*, picked me up at my hotel and surprised me with her nearly perfect American accent.  I could not help but ask where she had studied.  Sherry reveals that, in fact, she is self-taught and learned English by watching and re-watching Gossip Girl and The Big Bang Theory episodes.  I was incredibly lucky that tourists were rare this week in Chengdu – normally we would have been accompanied by at least four other tourists.  On this tour Sherry and I are alone, free to punctuate talk about the panda breeding program with tactful personal questions.  I am incredibly lucky to have been paired with my Chinese counterpart: mid-thirties, five years youthful, and university educated.  As we spoke for hours, the conversation progresses into a heart-to-heart on the car ride home, as we are accompanied only by a non-English speaking driver.  Sherry opened up about her private troubles: her mother’s nagging …

Now You Know: What is the Chinese Lantern Festival?

Ever wondered why you see red lanterns around January each year?

I recently returned from a trip to China and will be writing about my trip. While in China, I learned about the importance of the Lantern Festival and what the red lanterns symbolize. In this post, I’ll also introduce some cultural insights to make you a sophisticated, open-minded world citizen, ready to make friends from afar!

Favors, Vulnerability, and Recovery from Disappointment

Every once in a while I find myself in a vulnerable position and need to ask a favor of someone.  Many people find asking a favor difficult and that it makes them feel indebted or dependent.  Personally, I don’t find asking difficult because I know my heart’s attitude towards reciprocity in society: stranger or friend, I am happy to help anyone who sincerely asks a favor of me. We’re social animals and, therefore, we should not be afraid to help a stranger nor ashamed to receive help.

Inevitably, sometimes we ask for a favor and are disappointment by the lack of fulfillment. Is there any recourse?

It’s impossible to safeguard against ever being disappointed, but we can become better at dealing with it. Here’s my strategy for dealing with unfulfilled favors as they loom and after disappointment hits.

Your Face is NOT a Consolation Prize

Have you ever had a day when, out of the blue, you felt good about the way you looked?  Your hair was just right and your skin was free of blemishes.  Looking in the mirror, you couldn’t stop smiling at yourself.

But then you pick up your phone and see the gorgeous (or handsome) faces of Instagram influencers.  Or perhaps you walk down the street and see a classic beauty posing for a Tiffany advertisement, or the entrancing faces of Victoria Secret models caught mid-laughter.

At that moment you start to feel like your own beauty is a consolation prize. Sure, you appreciate your own good looks, but a part of you would still give it away in a heartbeat if you could just look like ‘her’.

It’s an uncomfortable, if not emotionally painful, feeling. Why do we feel like this and how can we feel better?

Week 52 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Personal Change

It’s the final week of this journal prompt series that I wrote to help you make introspection and deep thinking a daily habit. We made it!  Thanks for reading, liking and commenting throughout the year. I hope you found the content useful, or at least interesting, challenging, and thought provoking!   Next year’s blog project TBA! This week’s journal topic: Personal Change There’s a quote on Pinterest usually attributed to Lao Tzu: “When I let go of what I am, I become who I might be.” Regardless of the source – a fake quote or not – I like it.  It’s versatile as a reminder that progression requires letting go.  Being attached to our identity (i.e., how we choose to perceive and think of ourselves) makes letting go is a difficult and painful process.  Letting go is not a “whatever” or “don’t care” attitude, a disinterested shrugging of shoulders.  True letting go is a process requiring self-reflection and deep looking inward, followed by recognition of what will be let go and why, motivated by what will …

Week 51 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Solitude & Togetherness

Haven’t you had the experience of enjoying a salty, crunchy snack when suddenly you crave something sweet?  You’ve got sensory fatigue – eating more of the salty snack will continue to decrease satisfaction. How do you get the enjoyment back?  In order to enjoy the salty snack again, you need an intermission of something sweet: milk chocolate, ice cream, or some soda.

After thinking about this scenario, would you say that tastes are opposites, or are they complimentary?

What about solitude and togetherness? Sometimes we engage in the craving cycle in relationships. How do we get out when we feel stuck? Can we avoid the cycle without avoiding relationships?

Read on!

Week 50 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Secrets

First things first: The winner of this week’s Amazon gift card is announced at the end of today’s post!

It’s Christmastime, which means lots of family gatherings, seeing relatives whom you haven’t contacted all year, and meeting up with friends, and seeing coworkers out of context.  The entire month of December is an emotional powder keg.

It’s the season of high emotions and alcohol.
Secrets are revealed by uninhibited revelers. Events happen that we want to keep secret.

What makes a secret a secret? Why does it feel so good to know a secret? And why is it so hard to keep secrets?

Check out this week’s post for answers and, of course, more questions!