While preparing for a speaking trip to Hong Kong, I read a number of books and Internet posts about customs in Asia. I didn’t want to appear to be the “Ugly American.” One of the readings, a book called “Asia: A Fearless Guide to International Communication and Behavior (Put Your Best Foot Forward)“by Mary Murray Bosrock, suggested this: if you are going to give a business contact a gift, three of something would be very appropriate.
One day after a training program I was leading, a participant from Thailand approached and told me she had a gift for me. It was a very tiny box, about half the size of my smart phone. Inside were three beautifully-painted figurines, each about an inch-and-a-half high. I was so pleased…AND curious.
“Can you tell me about these?” I said
“Yes,” she replied. “They represent health, wealth, and prosperity…but none of them has anything to do with money.”
“I’d like to know more about that,” I responded.
“Health means a good spirit and a long life…wealth means a wealth of friends and experiences…prosperity means the chance to share your heart and knowledge with others…like you’ve been doing this week,” she smiled.
That really moved me. And, I think about it many time back home when a clerk hands me my purchases and intones, “Have a nice day” in the same flat cadence that he or she has used 43 or 143 other times that day.
Wouldn’t it be intriguing to close a business transaction or a visit with a friend this coming week by saying, “Thanks…and may I wish you health, wealth, and prosperity?” If that old expression, “Good things come in threes” is true, then in my mind, that’s about as good as it gets.
Lou Heckler is a motivational humorist and business speaker with more than 40 years experience in managing, motivating and directing others. In 2010, readers of “Meetings and Conventions” Magazine named him as one of their favorite keynote speakers. He has been married since 1968 to five-times-published novelist Jonellen Heckler and they have a son Steve, daughter-in-law Johanna, and two granddaughters.