It is very common when you are interacting with Asian, Middle Eastern, and Latin cultures for people to ask questions before you conduct business. A typical first meeting will often include questions about your background and sometimes, very little business discussion. They want to know about: your marital status; your education; whether you have children; what your parents (usually your father) do or did for a living…in other words, they want to know who you are. They need to find out more about you as a person before they decide whether they want to do business with you. This is a relationship-oriented culture.
We are not that interested in who you are in the U.S. We are more of a task-oriented society. We want to know enough to start working with you and perhaps we’ll learn more about each other as we work together. But knowing who you are is not really a prerequisite to doing business with you.
So, we end up doing team-building exercises. What is the purpose behind a team-building day or exercise? It’s to get to know each other outside the working environment…to know each other as people. The idea is to build relationships. So maybe, we should take a little time to get to know each other when we first start working together to build that relationship from the beginning, instead of trying to build it when we hit a roadblock. It is easier to build the relationship from the beginning.