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Communication and Interpersonal Skills: A winning business card

Your business card is obviously important!  It is a small but often enduring way to present yourself.  There are rules of thumb out there, but obviously not everyone sticks to them.  Some people go a bit too far in their interpretation.  In the case that we will see today, this deviation from the recommended guidelines is conducted a billionaire who can probably afford to do so.

It may not be the best thing to do if you are still new in your field and trying to establish your reputation.

To get started…

… read this article about the funny business card recently handed to journalists of the Chinese billionaire Chen Guangbiao.  Refresh your memory on the various barriers to communication mentioned in your textbook on pages 325-326. 

So, to summarise…

Chen Guangbiao is well known for his flashy philanthropy.  Although he is very affluent, he likes to give back to the community.  He does, however, do it style.  Big style.  In 2008, when a devastating earthquake hit Sichuan province, he brought in machinery and people to help with rescue efforts, and then donated millions to help with reconstruction. 

However, business is business, and Guangbiao also sold cans of “fresh air” in the heavily polluted Beijing, something that may be seen as controversial, as well as somewhat “Total Recall” inspired.  Another controversy that he has been involved in was suggesting that the “one-child policy” in China is applied to less-educated people. 

This time, Guangbiao is in the headlines for something fairly benign – his business card.  After handing it to some US journalists, the card attracted lots of interest not only in mainstream media, but also in social media.  Twitter jokes have been flying around, as expected, speculating  about the potential email signature and expressing wishes to copy the card’s style.

One could wonder, why Guangniao would even need a card.  But there is no doubt that a card communicates, even if in subtle ways, who you are and what you are like to work with.  Guangbiao is.  Judging by his card, he is certainly interesting.

Some issues to notice and pay particular attention to here are…

  • Barriers to communication
  • Ways to overcome barriers to effective communication

Consider the following questions for discussion…

  1. What barriers can potentially disrupt the message in Guangbiao’s card?
  2. What kind of problems could these disruptions cause in this case?
  3. How would you re-design Gaungbiao’s card?  Why?
  4. If you were a billionaire, what kind of card would you have?


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