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Exact Equals

Exact Equals

Hello and good day!

The way to earn trust when doing business overseas is to treat everybody as exact equals. You don't treat people as charity cases just because they live a humbler or more difficult life than you.Nor do you grovel and beg and plead to get folks to do business with you.

You prove yourself and earn respect through your actions. And you require others to do the same. You show why your proposed course of action will provide a benefit, and your prove your trustworthiness through consistency and hard work.

By the way, some version of this approach applies to dealing with folks from different cultural or economic backgrounds here in the United States as well. It also applies when you want to relate to folks with different religious or political beliefs. You are never going to get along with anybody if in your heart you think they are somehow inferior to you.

It just won't happen.

Nor do most people want to be put up on a pedestal or be given special treatment, just because of some superficial characteristic like skin color, age, or sexual orientation.Most people just want an honest deal and fair treatment. That is enough.

I remember back in the day, we took a group of high end culinary pros out to the jungle to visit cacao farmers. At that time, I was spending almost all of my time in the United States trying to sell chocolate.

I had only been out to campo a couple of times at that point, but Brian was living out there just about full time. After a long, sweaty, drive out to the jungle, everybody wanted to shower. Unfortunately, the public water service was turned off.

Public water only runs for 6 - 8 hours a day out in campo. During that time period, people shower and fill up buckets of water for doing laundry and washing dishes later on. I proposed that we walk down to the river with some soap and wash up down there.

The river appeared to be low and not dangerous, so we all went down. As we walked, I was waving at people and chatting with folks in the street. Then we walked down to the river and there were a bunch of people down there swimming.

I waved to all them too, and got in the water and started scrubbing myself with the soap.I yelled up to our visitors to come on in. They stood there with dumbstruck looks on their faces, shy to proceed. Finally, I talked them into it.

After we all washed up and dried off and started walking back to Brian's apartment/office, they asked me how many times I had been in this town. I told them that I hadn't been there many times.

They said that I seemed to know everybody and that I seemed so comfortable.I told them that I didn't know anybody, but that I had lived in Peru for a long time previously. It was a different part of Peru, but it was still Peru.

And I grew up in a predominantly African-American and Latino neighborhood as kid, where I was one of the only white kids in town. I had a ton of great friends even though we didn't all look exactly alike.I told our visitors that all they had to do was pretend that this place was their home town, and treat people just how they would treat their neighbors back home.

Nothing more, nothing less. Do that, and you will fit right in.

This is the fastest and easiest way to make friends and do business overseas, pretend you aren't overseas and treat everybody as if they were your favorite neighbor. If your favorite neighbor were to fall on hard times, of course you would rush to help them out.You'd do anything for your favorite neighbor.

But you wouldn't treat them like a charity case. They wouldn't want that. In fact, if they felt that you would start looking down on them, they'd probably prefer to just handle the situation on their own and not ask you for help.

People want to receive help without losing their dignity.

And if your favorite neighbor cashed out a business deal or won the lottery and became filthy rich, they probably wouldn't want that to affect your relationship either. They wouldn't want you start treating them differently all the sudden, kissing up to them and telling them how great they are.

The underlying principle to all this is that human beings are the same everywhere. And therefore, pretty much the same kind of good behavior will play well to all audiences. Politeness, smiling, respect, dignity, appreciation, accountability, honesty, work ethic, fairness. These characteristics have universal appeal.

Stick with those and we'll find that everybody, everywhere can get along just fine. Stray from those, and human beings start getting frustrated, offended, angry, and violent.And that is when everything starts to fall off the rails.

For our part, if things fall off the rails no chocolate will be forthcoming, and that is not something we can allow. For that reason, we will continue to treat all of our business partners, customers, cacao farmers, and employees, like cherished neighbors.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!


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