18 Sept 2014

The Chinese PM Visits India - Interesting Psychological Lessons

One of the most talked about news in India currently is the arrival of Chinese Prime Minister Xi Jinping, and the promises which he brings along. This post will not focus on what Modi should’ve done, or analyze the economic and political outcomes of the meet. Many articles and discussions will cover those. Instead, I’ll talk about small psychological factors which are evident in the events as they unfold. How those aspects have the potential to change the way we think, how some of them are being used for better results… 

A report in Economic Times read “Deals worth $100 billion are said to be in the works, compared with a mere $35 billion from Japan.” So the Japanese investment news, which until now was being hyped by the Indian media is now being termed ‘mere $35 billion’. Why? Because, according to them, the amount China proposes to invest in India dwarfs the amount which Japan. By no means is $35 billion a nominal amount. But in comparison to $100 billion… well, you get the picture. This just goes to show how comparison clouds our perception. How when we compare 2 things, the smaller one may start appearing insignificant (so to speak) while it may actually be so.

2 critical concerns between India and China are not being discussed in this meeting. The Arunachal Pradesh border conflict and streamlining of processes for faster visa approvals. Many people (especially the Congress) are disappointed that these issues are not being raised. These are sensitive issues and should be addressed as soon as possible, right? Not quite. Being the shrewd tactician that Modi is, he seems to be deploying what is known as the foot-in-door technique. You make the person in front comfortable and then gradually start discussing sensitive points. Then you raise bigger concerns and can expect the person in front to be more receptive, thereby dramatically increasing chances of a positive outcome in your favor.
How Modi is extending the red carpet to China

Day 1 for Xi Jinping was spent experiencing flavors of Ahmedabad - visiting Sabarmati Ashram, savoring a full-course Gujarati thali, witnessing the infrastructure and growth of the city. Modi ensured that he displayed excellent hospitality to a politician of a country which we’re hostile towards. By doing so, he made the Chinese PM comfortable and reduced instances of the proverbial ‘cold air’. Plus, by showcasing Ahmedabad, he focused on an area which he knew as well as the back of his palm. Thus he eliminated all chances to be pointed out instances or asked questions which embarrass him. Modi was in control of every situation all the time.

So you see, however celebrated the profiles of people may be, small aspects which shape our perceptions come into play everyday. These aspects can make or break a relationship or a business deal. Keep in mind that when whether you are implementing a process, attending a meeting or doing mundane chores with your spouse, you are essentially interacting with people. Pay attention to psychological factors because they play a major role in how the person in front responds to you. Mind you, these are not to manipulate anyone; they are simply to ensure everyone walks away satisfied emotionally; no one feels like they lost out.

Are there any tips which you have to share with other readers and me? Of course you do. Share them in the comments section.


  1. Good point of view. But I'm afraid that if the Chinese will ever want to talk about 'these' sensitive matters. They are pretty much happy to do business with any country until it benefits them. But when anyone starts asking them the uncomfortable questions, no matter how comfortable you make them feel, they start acting completely hostile. It would be interesting to see how Modi is going to handle this.

  2. Every long journey begins with a small step. This is the first step towards building relations with China.
    Also, about perception, it is up to the judgement of the person to assess the statements thrown at him as significant or insignificant. Totally person dependent.


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