Entrepreneurial Skill #4: Communication

Communicate with power, simplicity, and in a way that directly relates to the intended audience. Even the best solutions would not see the light of day, if they were not shared in a clear, concise, persuasive manner. If one is too wordy and unclear, it is very difficult to get people on board, in particular when it is a new and risky idea. Learning how to frame a message in a manner that fits the frame of thinking about the world of the audience is what makes all the difference.

These were my findings from my entrepreneurship research in the U.S.

None of it seems to apply to the Chinese startup scene. And I don’t even think I would advise Chinese entrepreneurs to develop this communication style.

Extroverted, direct, concise communication is what we are used to see and admire at successful entrepreneurs.

Something I strongly believe in though, is that there is never just one way to achieve your objective. And even if this communication style works for many, what is most important is discovering one’s own authentic way of passing a message across in a powerful manner.

Chinese business communication happens over an activity. Never directly.

It happens over a mahjong table.

People believe the way you play the game determines your character. Especially losing a game shows one’s true manners.

It also happens over karaoke (it seems to be a common activity — even for doing business).

I learn that the way you drink is another way to assess your character. If you get offered a drink and you reject multiple times, it can indicate that you are a stubborn person, one that would not easily take suggestions.

Momo Xie, who is helping me out implement a communications exercise, shares that it is very difficult for her to start a conversation. But she managed to discover and draw on her unique skills. She is an amazing artist, so she draws. She even creates small cards with her drawings on it and uses them as icebreakers at work events.

So, I take it back. Communicate in a clear, concise, persuasive manner — if that is something that feels authentic for you. It is very easy to see when people use communication or persuasion tricks, if they don’t fit in with their character.

Take enough time discovering your own powerful authentic communication style. And then use suggestions (such as the one at the beginning of this post) as inspiration, rather than directive.

This is a journal entry for my fourth day of the IMPROVE program by the WEF Global Shapers Community where I am practicing core entrepreneurial skills in unconventional ways while engaging local Shanghai entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs to-be.