Chinese Cultures - Respect The Elder

Elderly people in the workplace...

Besides respecting elders in the family, it is very important to show respect for elders in outside organizations as well. Junior members in an organization will not make a decision without the consent of the senior member.

As result, sometimes Chinese people will take more time with their work and may seem to be indecisive. What this means is you should not expect to only talk to the junior member in China and get results. Let me put it in this way, the phrase "May I speak with your manager?" has a whole lot more meaning.

China education

You should take this theory and apply it in practical terms as well. If you arrive to a meeting or banquet, you should always remember to greet the member that has the most seniority in that occasion first. Failing to do so could lead to a disaster. During the banquet, the senior member will commonly be served first, so you should politely wait until your turn.

Also, during the meeting, you should not interrupt the senior member's speech no matter how long or how boring it is. The bad news is once you have interrupted the speech you may as well pack up and go home. The good news is I just saved a bunch of money by switching to Geico. (Very corny? Yes. Does it put a smile on your face? Well, I try.)

A side note, the Chinese people do not like a person to talk about himself or in other words brag. The Chinese people like to acknowledge what you have done themselves, rather than hearing what you say you have done and accomplished. This especially holds true when talking to those with seniority. During your speech in front of them, you should avoid using "I have done this for you..." or "Because of what I did, we able to..." These are a "NO, NO."

I know that this is very different in the West since when you work in an American company, sometimes you have to sell or market yourself. However, while you are in China you should keep it to the minimum.

When traveling in China, if you are little bit old, Chinese people will offer you some help during your trip. The people might be so sincere that you wonder if they think that you are handicapped. Do not be offended because helping elders in China is out of respect and not out of pity. If you happen to receive some chivalries, relax, sit back, and enjoy being a king for a couple of minutes.

On the other hand, if you are a young adult then always remember to practice chivalry for age before gender on all occasions. Meaning you should take care of the elderly first, then the lady second.

Thank you for joining me today. Hope you have a wonderful holiday, and back to work. From where I am and wherever you are, "Gong Xi Fa Cai" and good night everybody.

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Raphita Tobing