During my pre-China preparations, I learned that many Chinese locals have an English name and many foreigners have a Chinese name.
Names are often based on your family history, demeanor or special skills and talents. Sometimes though, names are selected based simply on personal preferences, as this video featuring Su Fei of Sexy Beijing TV highlights:
I received my Chinese name during my first week at Edelman in Beijing. This came after my Mandarin instructor already decided to give me one (Ma li sha) and then another (Ma ri sha).
Thankfully, my office was a little more creative and named me PU RUI or “朴睿” (朴pǔ 睿ruì). The first part, PU, is a direct translation of my last name (Bushe), while RUI means (literally) “smart, wise and farsighted.”
I was touched, delighted and a little nervous when I learned the meaning of my name. However, I was most impressed with the thought behind it.
As I discovered from an informal survey of my colleagues, creating a Chinese name takes lots of work and careful consideration.
This is a great example of thoughtful communications – at Edelman, we call it listening with intelligence or listening to the wisdom of the crowd.
Here’s the concept:
- Listen carefully to what you’re hearing, whether it be from a client, a consumer or the collective voice of a crowd.
- Think about what you’re hearing: what does it mean and how does it shape your communication?
- Communicate thoughtfully and respond with intelligence.
Listen, think and then respond — these three simple steps contribute to successful and meaningful communications, yet are so often overlooked.
My new business cards are a constant reminder of the importance and value of thoughtful communications. If we don’t listen intelligently – whether in selecting a name or developing a strategy – we simply can’t communicate intelligently.
Marissa Bushe is a Global Fellow for Edelman in Beijing, China, and is in her third year with Edelman Vancouver. You can also follow her on Twitter: @Mbushe