My Chinese partner is blocking my decisions about our joint venture. It seems they are angry, but they haven’t told me why. What should I do?

In our experience, these situations arise for a wide variety of reasons. The most important thing is to resolve the situation quickly by getting effective communication going again. Of course, that’s easier said than done, and while the problem persists your Chinese partner will go on blocking your decisions.

It is important to encourage your Chinese partner to express their concerns or even resentments directly. Don’t rely on emails in order to do that. Instead, use phone calls or, even better, face-to-face meetings. Take your time and try to allow time for chatting as well as business, but at the same time do not be afraid to get down to brass tacks. It may help to provide your partners with an agenda before the meeting in order to ensure that you discuss important issues in the session and don’t get sidetracked.

When the issues are aired openly then you may find that your Chinese partners are blocking your decisions because of misunderstandings. In that case you may be able to persuade them by presenting evidence that they are wrong. On the other hand, you may well find that there are irreconcilable differences, in which case you may have to withdraw from the cooperation. In either case, it is much better to discuss things openly so you know where you stand. If you are successful your business relationship will be much stronger in future.

If the relationship is rocky it can be helpful to have a third party to take pressure off both sides by speaking plainly and frankly and getting to the bottom of the problem. The China Mix Ltd can provide an intercultural business facilitator who can help you by doing just that.