by Dan Harris
How many of you know what “deep six” means? How many of you have used equally difficult to comprehend slang/words when emailing with your Chinese manufacturer? How many times has your Chinese manufacturer emailed you back to seek clarification of such words or of anything at all? I am betting not often.
I had a great conversation the other day with one of my law firm’s savviest China clients. This is a person/company who has been engaged in China OEM manufacturing for nearly twenty years. I asked him how things were going and he launched into how he was now communicating with his Chinese manufacturers only in Chinese and that doing so had immediately led to all sorts of improvements. He said that he had made the switch after realizing that so many of the problems he had been having with his suppliers were due to “silly miscommunications.” He said the last straw (there I go again with the slang) was when his supplier confused “June” for “July” and delivered product a month late.
He now pays a US-based professional translator (the same one every time) to translate everything he sends to his manufacturers, including (and especially) all emails and all Purchase Orders. His OEM contracts were already in Chinese. For why it makes sense to have your China OEM Agreements in Chinese, check out China OEM Agreements. Why Ours Are In Chinese. Flat Out (there I went again with the slang).
What he kept telling me is how much more often he is now communicating with his manufacturers and how much more often his China manufacturers are writing back seeking clarification. I said that I thought it interesting that his Chinese manufacturers were seeking clarifications more often now that he was communicating with them in Chinese than when he was communicating with them in English. He responded by saying that they had previously been too embarrassed to seek clarifications because that would be to admit that their English was not very good. He also thinks (and I agree) that there are a whole slew of mediocre translators in China who will give their bosses a bad translation rather than admit that they do not understand the English.
Interesting idea communicating with Chinese manufacturers in just Chinese. I like it. What do you all think?