Think Like Chinese: A Review

Think Like Chinese: A very interesting book written by Haihua (Helen) Zhang and Geoff Baker. The book is broadly aimed at those doing business in China, but I would strongly urge anyone with an interest in China more generally to read this book. They discuss many of the different ideas and concepts that provide the basis for the way Chinese people think, and how in many cases this is distinctly different from those in the West. The authors draw on their own extensive experience in China and use many examples to illustrate their points.

I recently met Helen as she gave a talk for a group of G&T students on a course I run on China: Economy, Culture and Beyond. She spoke about some of the most fundamental differences between Western and Chinese thinking, and about Western and Chinese people in general. The concepts of Mianzi or ‘face’ which somewhat refers to reputation/social status (the concept is explored in great detail throughout the book), as well as the idea of ‘guanxi’ or a web of connections that Chinese people have were emphasized. Helen discussed a wide range of ideas around the question: Are the Chinese really different? A fascinating talk which engaged all the students. The book is just as engaging.

While the book discusses a lot of issues about doing business in China, it is a fascinating read, and many of the tips about how to interact with the Chinese could be applied in a whole range of situations. This is in addition to multiple references to concepts from Chinese philosophy, history and culture.

It is no surprise that the book has received very positive reviews from across the globe as it acts both as a helpful guide to people trying to interact with the Chinese but also a fascinating insight into some of the aspects of Chinese culture and behaviour. The book is very well written with information summarized at the end of each section with the most crucial points of the book emphasized.

As an insight into Chinese thinking, it’s a gem, but this book also provides a great insight into Chinese culture and mindset. For anyone with any interest in China, I would wholly recommend.

A presentation given by Helen on some of the issues included in the book can be seen below:

And in the short video below the authors talk a bit about the book:

To find out more about the book, the authors, and their work you can visit their website here.

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