There is an expression in Chinese to the effect that the only people who can see the shape of the mountain are those that are not on it: you can only see the distinctive Toblerone profile of Mont Blanc when you are some distance from the mountain itself. Which means that one of the joys of engaging with other people - however frustrating we may find them - is the opportunity to gain a clearer perspective on ourselves.
When setting the timezone on a new electronic device we've bought, we scroll down through all the "minuses" or back up through all the "pluses" until we find the "zero" that all other times are relative to: GMT. That's where we are. On our GPS, we are used to hovering around zero degrees longtitude. Everything to the right of us is 'east,' and to the left of us is 'west': we are in the middle.
If that new electronic device comes from a doctor-phobic American company, your default home-screen is probably a picture of planet earth from space. This clearly shows that the United States are not just in the centre (sorry, center) of the world but that in fact they ARE the world.
Like the Brits, the Chinese know differently. It is so self-evident that they are the middle - not just of the world but of the cosmos - that they have called their country Zhong Guo, meaning the "Central Nation," and divided humanity into those on the "inside" and those on the "outside."
The embarrassing thing is that it was only when I was affronted by the arrogance of the Chinese and the Americans that I realised I was expecting everyone else to know that the world actually revolves around me and adjust themselves accordingly.
Engaging with people that are different to us has the potential to do two things simultaneously: to highlight our own assumptions and to show us possible alternatives.
This is both humbling, as we realise how alike all human beings are, and an enriching experience, as we discover other ways of looking at things.
The reality is that even the two eyes in our own heads do not have the same view, and it is the combination of the different views that provides depth and perspective. The same is true in business - whether it is the colleague sitting next to us, the client sitting opposite us, or the potential partner on the other side of the globe.