Reading Gray Areas

Over the last week, I was able to learn a lot about the Chinese culture and society that I will be a part of in the upcoming months. I was shocked to learn about all the interesting contradictions that the China has in both their society and government. One aspect of Chinese culture that I found surprising this week was how they deal with the idea of “face” and how they do not express themselves in certain situations. I thought it was interesting how the Chinese culture deals with passivity in regards to their facial expression. When dealing with something they do not agree with or dislike, the Chinese do not express their discontent through facial expressions like us, but rather show indifference. I thought this was very interesting and peculiar. I feel that this characteristic shows a lot of professionalism in the work place, but in regards to other aspects of life such as a relationship, it can be difficult to interpret. The self-expression and indirectness of the Chinese culture is something I look to improve on interpreting when I go to China.

While China may have many differences from the United States culture, I saw many similarities as well. One similarity I saw between our two cultures was the sense of patriotism and nationalism that is rooted within our culture. Both Americans and Chinese are extremely proud of their heritage and their nation. Both citizens of the country are dedicated to the causes of their nations’ and therefore are striving in their work ethic to help improve their respective country.

However, one difference that I saw between the two countries is their view on directness and indirectness. In China, I learned that in many ways, the Chinese may deal with their matters indirectly as opposed to how Americans deal with their matters directly. The Chinese culture has a notion of passivity and therefore they deal with problems and expressions indirectly. In contrast, Americans have this notion of dealing with issues head on and directly. Furthermore, when addressing concerns, Americans tend to use a direct approach while the Chinese would use an indirect approach. I thought this difference in approaches were interesting in our two respective cultures.  I think that this cultural aspect will give me a little difficulty at first as I am trying to adapt to the Chinese culture.

In my first couple of weeks in China, I will need to learn how to assimilate into the culture. One of my biggest adaptations will be to learn how to deal with indirectness and how to read it. I will also need to contain my urge to act directly to an issue or concern because I know that many Chinese are not use to a direct approach. Overtime however, I think that this cultural aspect would teach me a lot about discretion and professionalism in the workplace. Learning how to read indirectness can improve my social capital and therefore positively impact my experience in China.

Kevin Q.

Quack, Kevin

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