the unwritten rules of chinese culture

“… cultural interpretation is a key business skill, as your writer points out. of course, that’s easier said than done. i have studied english for more than a decade, but I still become lost in some situations.

one time i attended a housewarming party held by a foreign friend. when asked whether i wanted a second helping of food, i replied politely in the traditional chinese way: “no, thanks” which actually means “yes, i do, but just a little“. needless to add, i went home hungry, and i’m sure many foreign businessmen have gone home “hungry” too due to miscommunication.

and so, when in china, it would be wise to “ask twice” when discussing matters of import. after all, for chinese, “beating around the bush” is a form of politeness, one that saves the face. “

spotted on a letter to the editor of a local magazine.

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