Monday, April 28, 2014
Task before relationship or relationship before task?
A tight schedule
Mr. Abu Bakar: Mr. Müller, how good to see you.
Mr. Müller: Nice to see you again, Hassan.
Mr. Abu Bakar: Tell me, how have you been?
Mr. Müller: Very well, thank you. And you?
Mr. Abu Bakar: Fine, fine. Allah be praised.
Mr. Müller: I really appreciate your agreeing to see me about these
Mr. Abu Bakar: My pleasure. So tell me: how was your trip? Did you
come direct or did you have a stopover?
Mr. Müller: No stopover this time. I’m on a tight schedule. That’s why I’m so grateful you could see me on such short notice.
Mr. Abu Bakar: Not at all. How is my good friend,
Mr. Müller: Oh, fine, fine. He’s been very busy with this distribution
Mr. Abu Bakar: You know, you have come at an excellent time. Tomorrow
Is the Prophet’s birthday – blessings and peace be upon Him –
and we’re having a special feast at my home. I’d like you to be
Mr. Müller: Thank you very much. Now about these plans ……. ?
Mr. Müller has a rather narrow notion of what one talks about at a “business meeting”. He tries to come right to the point – the question of the distribution arrangements. Mr. Abu Bakar seems to be more interested in the social side of things - there’s more to meetings than doing business. For him, after all, building strong personal rapport with partners is the essential foundation for a successful business undertaking.
From Mr. Müller’s point of view, business is business and should not be mixed with socializing activities. From the Arab point of view though, a firm distinction between the professional and the personal is unnatural. An increase in cultural sensitivity and change in attitudes on both sides will certainly help to alleviate a potential conflict from further escalating.