Working with Chinese Colleagues

The vast majority of them have been kind, attentive, and helpful during their time here. A few distinctions in attitude and behavior, on the other hand, failed to cross the cultural divide and served as a reminder that China is really an unusual place to visit and live in.

The use of sarcasm and jesting seldom has any effect.

In the West, many individuals like joking around with their coworkers to lighten the mood during the workday. This activity helps to build team spirit and disperse the drowsiness that sometimes sets in after lunch. There is a lot of room for interpretation when it comes to comedy, particularly when cultural and linguistic boundaries are present.

There is no guarantee that your Chinese coworkers will find caustic and negging remarks amusing even if you are fluent in Mandarin. In a society where "face" is so essential, it's best to avoid taking the mickey, even if it's intended warmly, even if it's a joke.

The act of mingling with coworkers might be unsettling.

Staff evenings out are popular in the West, and they can be a lot of fun, particularly if there is a lot of drink involved. If you're asked to a Chinese colleague's home for dinner, don't anticipate something comparable. For the most part, I've experienced socializing among coworkers in the form of company-sponsored meals and other team-building activities.

Despite China's well-deserved image as a land of alcoholic business dinners, I've discovered that these gatherings these days are more about the "comical" activities than the drinking, which is something that most visitors to China avoid (unless uninhibited by alcohol, of course).

When I was asked to supper with a group of adults I had taught English to, for example, I was surprised. Each member at the table did a little song, poetry, or routine at the request of one of my pupils, who was well-received. At this time, I had only had a few sips of the world's weakest beer, so I was a bit ashamed and surprised.

Criticism that causes harm

Let's say there's an issue at your place of employment. Even though the problem is evident, you may discover that your Chinese colleagues do not address it. The notion of face, although wonderful in its care for the sentiments of others, may occasionally impede Chinese colleagues from getting to the base of the situation.

As an example, when I initially came in China, I began working as an ESL instructor at a university, despite the fact that my previous experience was only in the high school setting. As a result, I took a high school teacher's approach, which the pupils didn't like or desire.

Even though my teacher intuition told me that something wasn't quite right, no one, not my coworkers, my employer, or any of my kids, warned me because they didn't want to put me in a bad light. After a few weeks, I realized what had happened, but it had a negative impact on both myself and the pupils I was teaching.

It's a privilege to be forewarned.

My Chinese coworkers aren't always the best at alerting me when anything fishy is going on. It's possible that this is a result of China's top-down political structure, which withholds information until it's absolutely necessary, but either way, it's upsetting.

When I was teaching English in a learning center, for example, I went to my customary classroom only to discover it had been transformed into a construction zone. When I went to pick up the audio-visual cabinet key from a coworker, he failed to mention that the room was undergoing a major renovation. My children had been relocated to a different classroom, and I was able to locate it. Evidently, someone felt the need to inform them, but it was not I!

Another day, when I was driving home from work, I got a phone call from my supervisor, who told me that a photographer was going to photograph me for use in PR. 'When,' I inquired, puzzled. “Now. "Can you please return to campus?" My supervisor once assigned me 19 pieces to copyedit for a magazine and said, "By tomorrow, thanks."

The unexpected might happen even after you've left the office.

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