NEWBERRY – City of Newberry staff along with staff from Newberry County and the South Carolina Department of Commerce got a glimpse into other cultures Monday morning during their Asian Cultural Etiquette and Protocol Seminar. The seminar was held at the Newberry Firehouse Conference Center.
Clarke Thompson, chief protocol officer at the department of commerce, said Monday’s seminar was brought upon by several individuals meeting a few months back and deciding that it needed to happen.
“Samsung coming to Newberry County got us thinking not only about Korean cultural etiquette, but what might come next,” Thompson said.
City Manager Matt DeWitt began the meeting by saying he really wanted to address the adage of “you don’t know what you don’t know.” The important thing, DeWitt said was that the seminar will serve as a point of reference on how to interact with those from other countries, so as not to come across as culturally insensitive.
DeWitt said you really only get one chance to make a first impression.
“Newberry wanted to insure we put our best foot forward and this is ensured through proper training of our staff who will directly interact with these varying cultures,” DeWitt said.
Several speakers were present Monday to reference etiquette and protocol from three countries – China, Korea and Japan.
Dr. David Hudgens, professor in the Darla Moore School of Business and the South Carolina Honors College, spoke with the group on Chinese etiquette and protocol. Hudgens’ recent courses include topics in international business and Asia-related themes, including China’s Northeast region.
Hudgens said following his graduation from college he went to China and was able to offer many examples of differences and similarities between U.S. and Chinese culture.
“Face,” defined as reputation, prestige or good name, Hudgens said was key to the Chinese spirit, adding that when face was lost, it could be problematic for relationships and relationships are very important in all three cultures.
Terms of agreement and how the varying cultures approach a negotiations process was also discussed.
The three salient types of link that create bonds in Korean culture were discussed by Dr. Sung-Hee “Sunny” Park on Monday. Park is a clinical associate professor at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.
Park said the links of school, generally undergraduate, the link of blood (family name and branch) as well as a link via region, generally a hometown were the ties that bonded most individuals in Korean culture.
In Korean culture, Park explained there was a large power difference between an individual and their boss and between an employee and their customer, also explaining the greatest virtue in Korea was patience.
Differing some from American culture, the final speaker on Monday described that in Japanese culture, they handle issues with a root cause analysis approach.
Craig Lundgren, business development manager of Froehling and Robertson, Inc. and co-chairman for Japan America Association of South Carolina in Greenville, shared his knowledge of Japanese culture.
Rather than brushing over an issue or pushing blame to someone else, Lundgren said in Japanese culture, they believe they need to address the issue, get the facts and address how it will be handled moving forward.
Lundgren also offered etiquette from initial conversations to making them feel comfortable in business arrangements should those in the group find themselves in a business deal with a Japanese company.
Mayor Foster Senn said it was really quite remarkable that Newberry County has many important international companies.
“We want the people who come here from around the world to feel comfortable and welcome in Newberry,” Senn said. “Learning about other cultures can really help.”
Rick Farmer, director of Newberry County Economic Development said seminars like this were important as our world becomes more global.
“I love that Newberry can compete on the world’s stage,” Farmer said. “I think we need to be aware of what’s going on on the other side of the world. I’m glad the community has embraced what is going on here.”