The QUANXI Tradition
The Chinese place great value on the development of interpersonal harmony and trust long before differences arise. This heavy investment in building strong relationships helps dissipate the heat of disagreement before it envelops them in dysfunctional animosity...
The Chinese investment in social harmony begins with what they call the QUANXI tradition, a tradition that began millennia before the current Chinese industrial revolution. Friendship and allegiance to the family were promoted and developed at an early age. Each person in the immediate and extended family including uncles, aunts and cousins as well as second and third extensions were governed by widely accepted standards as to what constituted proper courtesy and tact in dealing with one another. The “QUANXI” culture emphasized the importance of obedience in business and social matters. In effect, the rules established in dealing with others were well-understood and accepted in a wide variety of circumstances.
Today, in China’s complex industrial economy, QUANXI is less frequently attributed to family relationships but lives on in business-based connections, relationships or networks based on trust and reliability. Chinese business people invest significant time in getting close to those they deal with.
They build ongoing relationships not only on a company-to-company level but also on a personal basis both prior to a sale and long afterward. Networks with intersecting entities like banks, suppliers, customers, trade networks and governments are nurtured, knowing that the QUANXI tradition of mutual “back-scratching” and exchange of favors will help them reduce bureaucratic friction and win more business later.
QUANXI, whether in family affairs or business, makes it easier to cope with discord and conflict by setting limits on the dysfunctional aspects of disagreement. Differences in status, age, gender, connections, intellect and motivation are recognized and afforded courtesy and consideration. Emotional outbursts, casual interruptions and disrespect are softened.
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