Cultural DiversityAn obsession with transactions first and relationships later often tends to distance us from other people instrumental to our personal and professional success. Many have heard of the socioeconomic divide. In more recent years, we have also heard of the digital divide. But I would submit that the cultural divide in our global economy is the biggest culprit in hindering the development and nurturing of both internally focused and externally focused relationships.

Travel to the kingdom of Bahrain and you’ll see that a business transaction often includes not only personal embraces but a predominant focus on character—in essence, more emphasis on the DNA of the individual and considerably less on the transaction. On a recent trip to the Middle East, I met Basim Al-Saie, managing director of Installux Gulf, and Fasil Ali Reza, managing director of Ali Reza and Sons. They represent an infectious level of patriotism and all that is right and good about the Arab world. These highly U.S.-educated (both went to school in Boston), affluent, family-centric business executives see more in an individual’s character than they do the value of a transaction. As a matter of fact, much of the world comes to the United States and is surprised, if not offended, by our unquenchable thirst for transaction success before we show any signs of a personal connection.

What are some of the things you do to nurture the relationship before the transaction?

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