The Olive Way E-Newsletter 

February 2009


Dirty Look vs Standing Ovation


“Les Sylphides”, Fryderyk Chopin’s ballet piece, was beautifully choreographed.  As the curtain drew to a close, for a brief moment, there was dead silence, then came the thunderous and rapturous applause.  My attention turned to the orchestra pit.  The musicians, the Chinese musicians, jumped to their feet, cheering their conductor, who, just as excited, cheering back at the musicians.  Why shouldn't they?  With multiple roles on this project, I knew it truly was a moment to celebrate.


It was not easy to begin with.  The world renowned ballet troupe was on their world tour.  They brought their principal and associate conductors.  One of China’s most famous  symphony orchestras was invited to fill the gap.  What seemed to be a normal rehearsal sometimes ended with unspeakable tension, with the conductor hitting and flinging his baton, yelling, and comparing one flutist’s performance to that of a primary school pupil. 


Was the flutist underperforming?  Yes.  He knew it, so did the whole group.  Did they know why?  Of course.  Did the conductor care to know why?  Absolutely not.  Anxious to get the result, he couldn’t care less about anything else.  His public humiliation of one of the best and well respected musicians turned the whole orchestra against him.  Out of politeness, they rewarded him with a rather controlled dirty look.         


Fortunately, as you already know, the partnership eventually came to a happy ending, but not without many go-between negotiations and much communication coaching.  I am sharing this story with you because I believe we can all learn something from this case:


· As we dance our own ballet, i.e. develop business offshore, we need the help of a partner or partners.

· Expect the unexpected.  It’s normal to have problems, particularly when the partnership is cross-cultural. 

· Work with a coach to learn how to communicate with your partner/s effectively, and prepare for the unexpected. 

· When things don’t turn out the way you wish, find out why and control your temper tantrums. 

· Keep a cool head under any situation, and maintain a sense of humour.  Doing so will help steer your partnership toward established goals and create a win-win situation.

· Given that some situations are difficult to predict and to prepare for, it is advisable to bring your coach with you sometimes, if not every time.  An experienced coach not only can come to your assistance when something “bad” happens, but can also point out your strengths and weaknesses in the game and help you map out a strategy for the rest of the game.     


As a CEO of your business or as a senior executive of your company, ask yourself where you want your global partnership headed, how you are going to prepare yourself for the  challenges that may come up, and what help you can solicit in the process.  It is my sincere wish that you will never receive any dirty look, and if you do, you can turn this around and get many standing ovations.



Have a comment?  Want to share your thoughts and stories with me or our readers?  Please send your email to us.  We look forward to hearing from you!


© 2009  Jacqueline Wu & Olive Kan Global.  All rights reserved.




© 2011 Olive Kan Global.  All rights reserved.

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