InterVoices: Study Abroad E-Magazine
Tips on Intercultural Competence with Chinese
- Author: Lourdes Zilberberg Oviedo
- Category: Interculturality
Chinese Culture might be very different if you compare it with Western countries. For that reason, InterVoices gives you some recommendations if you want to develop intercultural competence with Chinese.
Learn about the concept of Ganxi 关系 (it is the social network considered highly important in the Chinese Society). Chinese people are long-term oriented; it means that you have to build the relationship, usually based on mutual obligations. Therefore, being anxious and short-term oriented does not work when dealing with Chinese. Several meetings, discussions and banquets might be necessary before reaching a deal.
It is also important to take into account that Chinese social relations are based on Confucianism (the five constant virtues: benevolence, righteousness, courtesy, wisdom and credibility) we are talking about a highly hierarchized society in which it is important to show respect and keep harmony. Loyalty, filial piety, respect for for elderly, integrity, tolerance, bravery and modesty are the key values in this society. Recommendations: to show respect, learn and follow the rituals that are abundant in the Chinese society and observe, pay attention to small things that you usually don’t.
For Chinese, harmony is much appreciated. Consequently, they look ambiguous. They use an indirect and high context speech which means that they will avoid saying something that might cause misunderstanding or conflict. In this context, non-verbal communication is highly important, map the situation and follow its flow, then you will realize when “yes” means yes, because you must know that Chinese people do not feel comfortable of saying “no”.
Another philosophy that is highly important (because it is also mainstreaming in the Chinese society) is Taoism. Chinese see human interactions as a changing and transforming process. Intercultural communication is grounded in the TAO, translated as “the way”, composed by the dynamic movement of ying and yang, contradictory forces of the universe. For that reason, social interactions are never completed or absolute. Therefore, you have to keep nuturing the relationship and checking if something has changed.