Chapter 3United States of America

“The thing that I learned as a diplomat is that human relations ultimately make a huge difference. No matter what message you are about to deliver somewhere, whether it is holding out a hand of friendship, or making clear that you disapprove of something, is the fact that the person sitting across the table is a human being, so the goal is to always establish common ground.”

—Madeleine Korbel Albright, Former United States Secretary of State


One of the things that is well known about the United States,1 even in other cultures, is how little U.S. Americans2 seem to know about the world. For example, during one of Sharon's business trips to China, she visited the Haidian District office of a long-standing female colleague. As they were finishing their discussion, her Chinese colleague asked, “Americans are still learning about world geography, yes?” In her polite, face-saving, indirect way, what she was really asking was why Westerners are sometimes ignorant of other cultures. This led to a fascinating discussion about the differences between Eastern and Western thought.

This need to understand the differences in Western thought and action is fundamental to establishing long-term relationships in Asia. As we explained in the Introduction, this book offers in-the-trenches information focused around eight questions. The culturally focused ...

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