Philippe Branche and Mathilde Aubinaud have just signed a four-handed book entitled "Understanding China better, 10 keys of communication to apprehend the Middle Kingdom", a condensed way to interact effectively with the Chinese, in business or in life. We met them to talk about their book
Interviewed by Didier Pujol
Gifted and hand-to-mouth, just 25 years old, Philippe Branche went through Essec and Science Po, Peking University. He is financier and columnist Forbes. Mathilde Aubinaud is a communicator and pen, with already 6 books to her credit. Regularly deciphering political communication, she runs an interview blog titled "The Saga of the Bold".
How did the idea of doing this come delivered?
Philippe: On the occasion of a trip to China, I was fascinated by the language and I pursued linguistic studies to the point of being able to answer interviews for Chinese television. The idea of the book came when I realized how difficult it was for my compatriots to understand China. Language is one of the many ways to decipher Chinese thinking and behavior.
Mathilde: When Philippe told me about this project, I was immediately interested. As we had already written several articles and analyzes for generalist and economic media on China, we wanted to continue this reflection on the occasion of this book.
Friendship is a flight of wild geese
What are the teachings of this book?
Philippe: The book has several parts. After an introduction on the characters, several chapters explain simply, through anecdotes and synthetic files, how to approach the exchanges with the Chinese, as well in the business world as in the human relations. There is a lot of misunderstanding between Europeans and China that comes from the fact that the way of thinking has nothing to do with it. An example is given by the analysis of the "friend" character 朋友. It is today made of two moons but it is in fact a deformation of an old character representing a flight of wild geese. The reason is that the ancients had noticed that when geese fly in V, they go much faster. The Chinese associate the concept of friendship with the performance of a flight of wild geese.
On the business side, we also synthesize great Chinese classics such as Guiguzi (鬼谷 子, the "Master of the Valley of Ghosts" (3rd century BC), the Chinese equivalent of Machiavelli which is the bedside book of Many Chinese businessmen, knowing the existence of this type of book may be essential to approach the Chinese market. "Thinking, flying the enemy, open and closed," are concepts that the counterparts of your negotiations master perfectly well.
Mathilde: In this book, beyond the cultural approach, we illustrate our discourse with feedback from companies on the communication aspect. The story of how David Guetta promoted on Chinese social networks or where Dolce and Gabbana had to readjust his advertising campaign to avoid shocking the Chinese. It is therefore a real practical guide that we propose for entrepreneurs who wish to improve their relations with China.
Save the face … and its communication
What advice would you give to succeed in China?
Philip: In life, things that seem useless are often the most useful. To know China, learning the language is surely an asset. Now, if learning the language is sometimes very difficult, you can at least try not to make mistakes. This book offers reading keys through lived situations that are easy to memorize. It is therefore the choice of each to exploit or not each of the multiple tracks that we give. In any case, stay open and be ready to question your preconceptions.
Mathilde: Even though many of the concepts we mention in this book, like the one of the "face" are more or less known, it is one thing to have heard about it and it is another thing to understand concretely how behave to succeed in communicating. Certainly, this book is a useful summary to go further according to your priorities. I would say to the French that you have to stay curious and avoid being naive. China is neither worse nor better than France, it is just fundamentally different. With the rise of the Middle Kingdom, who can still economize not to be interested?
To get this bookThe easiest way is to pick it up at the Parenthesis Bookstore, 14 Wellington Street, Central
or on Amazon
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