Briefly, my new role here in Hong Kong requires me to get in touch with Western business owners and ‘do business’ so to speak. — Apologies…I am trying to being as nondescript as possible in the event someone stumbles across this and works out who I work for. — A component of my salary is commission based and therefore these ‘deals’ are important! Today I had my first big client meeting. It had taken me all of last week to arrange and it was the buzz around the office! Needless to say, I was a tad excited.
Being a newbie and all, a Director at thought it might be a good idea for him to come along and accompany me on my first big deal. Fair call. Let it be known that I had done a fair job of organizing this meeting completely in English via email and telephone, so I was confident that the pitch could be conducted in English as well.
Once we had sat down in the very trendy offices off a major international retail label, my Director proceeds to take control of the meeting. I didn’t mind as we had discussed how it was going to play out and he was going along with our intended script, that invovled him kick starting things off and me wrapping it up…or so I thought. Little did I know that he is all for ‘improvisation’ and somewhere along the line has decided to throw me a curve ball and all but bump me right off the conference table.
His first question for my clients was apparently ‘out of curtorsy’; “Do you prefer to conduct this meeting in English or Cantonese?” – “English is fine!” they both reply. To my relief, the meeting charges forward in my mother tongue – phew.
Somewhere between discussions of potential product volume and commission, my mother tongue stops wagging.
‘Little Director Boy’ (although other names come to mind, I feel the need to keep this blog as ‘clean’ as possible) has broken out in full blown Cantonese and suddenly I feel that MY meeting has come to a screeching HALT! I could scream. I mean really REALLY scream. The frustration is immeasurable and although I think I have mastered my poker face…my fists are surely telling another story.
After the final shake of hands and we are walking out the door, through clenched teeth I politely say; “So how did that go?” (remembering, sarcasm isn’t really on the menu here). The response; “There are a few creases to iron out but I’m fairly positive about the deal. Gweilo (me), there is no need for you to follow up with them, best leave that to me!”
Needless to say, the lift ride up 20 floors was a quiet one and the vibe back in the office was just as tense on my behalf. I was cranky. Cranky cranky cranky.
I sat at my desk and pondered the ways I could let the Little Man know that this kind of behaviour was not going to fly…I watched him intensely (yes, like a freak) for about 15 minutes, steaming. It wasn’t long before I saw him get up from his desk and walk to the bathroom with a roll of toilet paper in his hand. I suddenly felt a touch better and chuckled. I think someone upstairs was kindly reminding me that although his actions are the definition of sneaky, he needs toilet paper too…he is human too and such I plan on dealing with the sneaky little man in a way that assumes he doesnt own a pitchfork.
When the time comes for passing out the ‘Congratulations’ I plan on standing tall and bowing as they clap the little western girl that closed the deal!