When Does Yes Mean No?

By Maya Hu-Chan

A trick question, right?

I am afraid not. This is a real issue for global business leaders and, every day, there are communication breakdowns occurring across the world as different cultural norms conspire to confuse and confound even the most sensible and experienced global leaders.

Here’s a great example. A client rang me recently, very distressed. He is a senior global executive, based in Singapore and working for a US-based American boss. They have always enjoyed a great professional relationship with mutual respect and appreciation.

I asked him what had happened. “My . . .

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