How Turkish Customs Build Business and Personal Relationships

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How Turkish Customs Build Business Relationships

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How Turkish Customs Build Relationships is a very personal story for me. It’s hard to tell how much to share on a blog. Since I promised to be transparent, I’m sharing how adopting the culture and customs built a relationship with me. I think of a very personal story. It’s hard to tell how much to share on a blog. Here is How to Build Better Relationships while traveling.

How Turkish Customs Build Relationships

Zeki and I worked together. By spending several months together, we experienced conflicts as well as many wonderful times. As I got to know Zeki, he shared more of his story with me. I asked him to tell me about his family because the favorite holiday Kurban Bayrami is all about family in Muslim cultures.

Adopting A Culture – Turkish Customs Build Relationship

It turned out that Zeki was one of six children, and his mother was his father’s second wife. His parents’ two wives each had six children. Zeki’s mom and dad were out one night with the two youngest children. A car hit them head-on and killed his mother, father and the two youngest children. Zeki was now the youngest child. Zeki moved in with his oldest brother, as is customary in this culture. His oldest brother adopted him. Zeki has lived with his brother ever since. Zeki’s brother works at a shop next to By Moses in the Arasta Bazaar.

My heart sank when Zeki told me about his past.

“Is Monkey your family, Zeki?” I asked

“Monkey is family,” he said.

“You have adopted Monkey?” I asked.

“Yes,” Zeki said firmly.

Holidays and relationships

I asked Zeki if holidays and celebration were hard on him. Of course, they are. My story about Zeki could have been about my son. We are separated from each other by choice. My son’s choice. That is why I started traveling. My son and Zeki are the same age, in their 20s. Everyone knew Zeki needed a mom. “I need a son,” So I offered to adopt you.” Zeki looked a bit surprised. He asked, “What does that mean?”

I thought about it. To me, adopting Zeki meant that I would help him like a mother does with a son. Moms give advice, even when it’s not wanted and especially when it is. Zeki said that it would be nice to be able to talk to me like a son does with his mother.

Over the next few weeks, leading up to the Bayram celebration. I asked Zeki about his friends, girlfriends, and school. In exchange for my many questions about him, Zeki took me on his motorcycle for a ride. We never went to lunch or dinner because we worked late. Together, eventually, we learned that we could sell more together as teammates.

Turkish Customs Build Relationships – Rabbits and Bears

Successful selling at the shop was like hunting for rabbits versus bears. Hunting alone, we each could get one rabbit, but together, we had the potential to get a bear. A bear feeds you for longer. To help pay off Moses’ loan, we had to find a way to get more bears.

Turkish Customs Build Relationships – What we learned

Zeki felt, and Moses agreed that each of us worked better with certain types of customers. We weren’t trying to stereotype people, but we began to see a pattern, probably because we were usually speaking English as a first or second language. My Spanish was very simplistic. My French was better, but in Italian, I got the customers’ jokes.

  • I was better than the others were with the older customers from any country
  • For some customers, my English was hard to understand
  • Zeki’s humor was hard for some customers to understand
  • Zeki was excellent at relating to Arabs, Asians, and Turkish people
  • I was better with gay men and single woman travelers

Each of us had an audience of customers who related to us better than the others. It was like we were members of a royal court. We each had our role to play in the royal court. When we stayed in our positions, we were successful.

Sometimes travelers have a role to play. Does this apply to you?

It’s something to consider. It is good to understand the role(s) you want to play and the ones that others see you playing. Some common roles are:

  • The drama queen
  • The calm-under-pressure at all times person
  • The caregiver who takes care of everyone
  • The enabler
  • The observer

Next, ask yourself if you like your role. Consider modifications if you want to find another role that fits you better.

Turkish Customs Build Relationships – How this applies to the store and my relationships

I would talk to the customers, but Zeki knew the price of everything. We decided that I would let him decide if it was a fair price. When we didn’t know how low to go, we would ask Moses to decide. We weren’t just capturing the bear, but capturing a sleuth of bears — a pack of bears.

Our business increased while that at other shops didn’t. Bayram was our biggest holiday, and the shop had to sell enough merchandise to get through the lean winter to come. We needed a lot of bears.

Turkish Customs Build Relationships – What should travelers know about bartering in markets?

  • The lowest price is relative
  • Not all shops can offer the same price on goods
  • The lowest price may not be for the same quality item. Merchandise can look the same, but often is a good copy and lower quality.
  • Try to figure out the chain of authority and who’s playing each role in a shop
  • Some stores give a flat discount while others attempt to make the customer happy

Copyright © 2020 Capetown-Rio, Inc. USA. All rights reserved. Republishing is allowed only with written permission. All photography rights on this page belong to Capetown-Rio, Inc. and the author. Do you have a question, business proposal, or speaking opportunity? Please contact me here.

Kate started traveling for work. Now with grown children, who are travelers, she travels for pleasure looking for great travel experiences. Currently, her home is in Bellevue, WA, and lives with her cat Angelina Jolie. She has a Bachelor's of Fine Arts, Studio Arts and Art History from the University of Colorado, an MBA and Master of Arts, Management. Her favorite things are exploring new cultures, traveling the world, creating a painting and sour or spicy foods.

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