Definition: Guanxi (pronounced: gwanˈCHē); Mandarin; noun
1. (in China) the system of social networks and influential relationships that facilitate business and other dealings.
Why I love this word:
Our version of networking, this is one of the essential ways of building relationships and getting things done in traditional Chinese society. To build up a goof guanxi, you do favors for one another, helping your community essentially. Conversely, you can also "use up" your guanxi with someone by calling in favors owed. Once a favor is done, an unspoken obligation sort of exists. Maybe because of this, people often try to refuse gifts, because, sooner or later, they may have to repay the debt? However the bond once you have built guanxi is rarely acquitted, because once the relationship exists, it sets up an endless process that can last a lifetime.
Photograph by Iciar J. Carrasco