Guest post by Anthony Chiminello
Much of what I am about to share with you is a result of what I have learned over many years in successfully building relationships with government, business and individuals across Australia and Asia. My professional background is in real estate, therefore I often use the analogy that if the foundation of a property is robust, then it will stand the test of time regardless of instabilities.
Relationships can be complex and much research has been dedicated to this topic, therefore I am not advocating one size fits all. However, I have identified five anchors that have assisted me in the past, and which will make your journey in building sustainable business relationships between our cultures a little easier.
The importance of strong personal relationships
When two parties connect with each other, there are basically two levels of interaction at play:
- Personal – characteristics, feelings, emotions and culture
- Business – skills, knowledge products and services
Many Australian businesses have a tendency to be business focused, which is like putting the cart before the horse. The success of cross-cultural connections is firstly dependent on a strong personal relationship.
Numerous benefits result from building personal relationships:
- More meaningful, long term and sustainable connections
- Ability to overcome difficulties through trust and open exchange of ideas
- Greater efficiency, effective performance and ability to leverage mutually beneficial opportunities
- Promotes creativity, fun and a greater competitive advantage
- Reliability, support and recommendations to other networks
The Five Keys
I have taken a short practical approach to summarising the five keys (inner qualities) for building a sustainable relationship. Each quality can be viewed independently; however they are interlinked and provide enormous benefits when practiced together.
The art of listening is the ability to pick up verbal and non-verbal messages using all of your senses, including your eyes, ears and mind. It requires the discipline to remain silent and focused on the topic, types of words used, tone of voice and body language. Simple techniques for developing listening include:
- Clear the mind of distracting thoughts by writing down all ideas prior to interaction
- Be silent, open minded, focused on the topic and receptive to ideas
- Show genuine empathy and listen to the gestures and body language with your eyes
Benefits – promotes greater understanding on all levels and facilitates the ability to ask relevant questions. It increases efficiency, productivity and minimises potential conflict or misunderstandings.
The art of acceptance is the ability to recognise and be open to other people’s values, beliefs and behaviours without judgment or prejudice. Simple techniques for developing acceptance include:
- Be open minded and focus on the opportunity to learn as opposed to seeing differences
- Improve your knowledge of the culture, region and ethnic group you are dealing with
- Be sensitive to the culture and willing to adopt it in your planning and business
Benefits – promotes flexibility, harmony and the ability to work more effectively.
The art of respect is the ability to acknowledge and show sincere interest in other people’s opinions and feelings. It involves valuing other points of view and treating people with dignity. Simple techniques for developing respect include:
- Speak clearly and slowly with an attitude of politeness and kindness
- Acknowledge and satisfy the needs of others
- Compromise and negotiate as opposed to seeing “right or wrong”
Benefits – promotes dignity and the feeling that everyone has equal importance and value.
The art of caring is the ability to show genuine support in the wellbeing of others, as opposed to an obligation. Simple techniques for developing care include:
- Connect emotionally and show genuine support to solve their problems
- Be willing to assist on a personal as well as a business level where possible
- Treat them as a friend and give them more than they expect
Benefits – promotes a deeper engagement, which creates loyalty.
The art of trust is the willingness to demonstrate honesty, reliability and competence in the services you provide. Simple techniques for developing trust include:
- Be accomplished in your skills and abilities, and be reliable
- Build a common bond by understanding the culture, language and values
- Adopt the qualities of empathic listening, accepting, respecting and caring
Benefits – promotes long-term success through the open exchange of ideas, issues and motives.
I believe each of the above qualities can only be effective if they are a natural part of our character, as opposed to adopting them as a temporary strategy when the need arises. I suggest that you take the time to study the meaning of each quality and reflect on how you can incorporate these into your daily life so that they become an integral part of your work ethic.
The success in building cross-cultural relationships must start with the self by aligning our character to the qualities that we preach.
Anthony Chiminello is the Director of Bridgeworld Intentional Pty Ltd, an international property consultancy. He has more than 25 years’ experience in building relationships between Australia and Asia and is also the Founder of Cultural Harmony Now, an organization that creates and supports cross-cultural projects and partnerships for social and economic benefit.
Anthony is also the coordinator of Insight Management Forums, a Melbourne-based initiative featuring leading-edge speakers from diverse cultures who share their personal stories and life changing experiences. You can email Anthony at firstname.lastname@example.org