Today saw me in Scotland working with a client in the aerospace and defence industry who are looking to ramp up their supply chain capabilities in China. Despite the fact that this company is a US listed entity they are still looking to move more supply chain operations into mainland China which seems a little at odds with the current aspirations of the Trump administration. This shows how a difficult it is in a democracy for a government to try to dictate economic policy to individual corporations. The forces of globalisation are too strong – supply chains will remain global for the near future at least.
Anyway, we had a good China cultural awareness training programme during where we mapped out the potential cultural challenges which were likely to be encountered when working with China and worked through possible solutions to these challenges.
One specific issue I had to take full-on was that of accents. Apparently the Chinese have quite strong local accents that can make they difficult to understand when they are speaking in English. I had to point out to the Scots in the room that their accents were equally challenging – I was struggling to understand everything that was being said to me despite being a native speaker and in the same room!
Accents are a problem and I speak as somebody who has a Manchester accent. If you have an accent, you have an accent. All you can really do is slow down when you are speaking to make sure each individual word is pronounced separately and follow things up in writing to ensure that any misunderstanding can be picked up on quickly.