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Chinese Business Proverbs to Grow by

1. Shuǐ néng zài zhōu, yì néng fù zhōu. 水能载舟,亦能覆舟 – Not only can water float a boat, it can sink it also: Be careful – what can help you can also harm you.  People can make you, but they can also break you.

2. Yī fēn gēngyún, yī fēn shōuhuò. 一分耕耘,一分收获 – If one does not plow, there will be no harvest.  If you want to reap the profits, you’d better get to work!

3.  Fú wú zhòng zhì, huòbùdānxíng. 福无重至,祸不单行 – Fortune does not come twice (and) misfortune does not come alone: Good fortune strikes rarely, but when it comes to misfortune – when it rains, it pours!

 4. Dú wàn juǎn shū bùrú xíng wànlǐ lù. 读万卷书不如行万里路 – Reading ten thousand books is not as useful as traveling ten thousand miles: The value of real experience cannot be underestimated.

5.  Liángyào kǔkǒu. 良药苦口– Good medicine tastes bitter: The truth can be hard to swallow, but good for you in the end.

6.   Kōngxuéláifēng, wèibì wú yīn. 空穴来风,未必无因 – If the wind comes from an empty cave, it's not without a reason: There’s an underlying cause for every irregular event.    

7.  Fēng xiàng zhuàn biàn shí, yǒu rén zhú qiáng, yǒu rén zào fēng chē. 风向转变时,有人筑墙,有人造风车– When the wind of change blows, some build walls while others build windmills:  Rather than fighting change, it’s better to figure out how to take advantage of it.

8.  Jīnrì shì, jīnrì bì. 今日事,今日毕 – Things of today, accomplish today: Don't put off until tomorrow that which you can finish today.

 By Diana Rowland and Maya Hu-Chan

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Rowland & Associates is a premier cross-cultural consulting firm, providing essential international business skills since 1985. Our passion is bringing intercultural business success through heightened insight and agility. We believe that bold steps with exceptional preparation can create dynamic solutions.


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Globalization has made cross-border business deals more common than ever. But, every day, deals are jeopardized or lost when foreign associates are offended by Americans unaware of other countries' customs, culture or manner. while traveling, meeting a foreigner here or communicating on the...



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