Tuesday, August 28, 2012


There's a concept in Chinese language and culture that has no clear translation in English. It's the term "guanxi." It roughly means, "relationship" or "connection" but in reality it is much more.

Here, it's important to have guanxi with others. You can build guanxi, get guanxi, lose guanxi, use guanxi. When you have guanxi with someone, they are more likely to do things for you. It's kind of like building rapport with people that you can draw on later.

My husband is the Guanxi King. Really, it's like his superpower. Close to a Jedi mind trick, but not quite. Take a guy who is naturally easy going, friendly, and deferential, but who also values getting other people to do the little things he'd rather not do, and you have a guy who is unstoppable in this country. People who have just met him suddenly like him and are willing to do anything for him. It's amazing to watch. Those inflexible rules we so often encounter here are bent in the presence of the Guanxi King.

I'm not sure how this guanxi power will translate in America. We'll see. All I know is that it's been helpful here.

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