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I believe in the value of getting negative feedback in order to make my service better, and I have heard that if I'm working with business people in Singapore it will be hard to get any kind of negative feedback from them. Is that true?
It's true that it will generally be hard for you to get negative feedback in Singapore. This can be confusing to someone who comes from a country where negative feedback is often given, may be sought in order to make improvements, and is not necessarily taken personally.
In Singapore, the Chinese concept of 'saving face' is at play, where they are concerned that they will cause you to lose dignity and prestige when viewed by others if they tell you there are problems with your product or service. Not to be taken lightly, saving face is a powerful component of the Chinese culture and it will be very hard for you to obtain negative feedback, even when you are asking for it.
Several things to keep in mind: It will probably be hard for you to get that kind of information - but they aren't playing with you. It's cultural. If you do get any, take it very seriously and even multiply what you heard to get closer to their true feelings. And very importantly, be sensitive to how you may inadvertently cause your Singaporean business partners to lose face by arguing, insulting, or bluntly pointing out factual errors, especially in front of their staff. If you cause them to lose face, your business relationship will surely suffer.
Build up a trusting relationship with your Singaporean business contacts and partners, and perhaps over time you can get the input you are looking for. If not, don't assume that just because you haven't heard anything, that you have no more work to do to make improvements. Use other indicators to understand how you are doing.More