The Lack of Unequivocal Answers in China – Soft No’s and Soft Yes’s

Communication between Chinese and Westerners can often result in misunderstandings. There’s been more than one businessperson who’s thought they’d heard one thing from their Chinese counterpart, when in actuality they’d been told another. Unless you have a good interpreter who … Continue reading The Lack of Unequivocal Answers in China – Soft No’s and Soft Yes’s

The Evolution of Chinese Language and Characters

The Chinese character is the oldest continually used system of writing in the world, its early use dating back almost 5,000 years. Since that time it’s gone through a long period of transformation before it evolved into its present day form. For most of us, a Chinese character is indecipherable, its appearance more akin to a Rorschach test than the written word. Nevertheless, it’s evolved into the basis for a language that’s used by one-quarter of the world’s population. Perhaps the earliest documented use of Chinese characters are the oracle bone inscriptions. Oracle bones are pieces of shell or bone … Continue reading The Evolution of Chinese Language and Characters

Humility in China

Humility is looked at differently in China than in many other parts of the world. In China it’s been a part of the culture for thousands of years. China is a collectivist society which stresses the inter-dependence of individuals within that society and the cohesion that follows. The focus is on the community. Western countries, in contrast, are individualistic. Members are more self-reliant and set their own goals. The focus is on us as an individual. It’s important, especially when conducting business in china, to recognize the existence of humility and how to react to it. Culturally, the Chinese carry … Continue reading Humility in China

Queuing in China

Cultural differences between Westerners and Chinese often cause a great deal of misunderstanding, both in business and in social situations. Take, for example, queuing, or standing in line. Westerners are used to orderly lines. That’s just the way it is, first-come, first-served. It works well in our society and we generally take it for granted. For anyone who has traveled to China, however, queuing takes on a whole new meaning. I can recall standing in a line for a train ticket at the station in Jinan and seeing people, without a second thought or moment of hesitation, come straight to … Continue reading Queuing in China