Indirect Communication - Who is Smart Now!
FUN FOR CHINESE - FRUSTRATION FOR FOREIGNERS
For foreigners, communication is one of the key challenges in China. Projects and business situations go wrong if communication between people don't happen, or if messages are misunderstood. Chinese read between the lines, make assumptions which might lead into confusion or problems.
Sometimes it's not lack of information. Reason for failure might be interpretation of Chinese indirect way of communication.
When Chinese communicate with each other, it's often a kind of competition, who is smart in here now? To be indirect requires the discussion partner to focus, and then construct conclusion out of a proverb or a saying, in a situation. This method is intelligent and softens confrontation with imagination.
1. DON'T DISTURB ME - Beijing slang
Na er Liang Kuai, Na er Xie Zhe Qu
= Find a cool place where you go to rest
Not now, don't disturb me, this is none of your business.
2. WRONG TASK FOR ME - Beijing slang
Nei Hu Bu Kai, Ti Nei Hu
= The heater boiler not boiled, was picked
You just pointed to the one thing that I am not good at.
That task is not for me, find someone else.
3. YOU HAVE DONE A GOOD JOB - Proverb
Gou Nien Jaza, Kvaa Kvaa Xiao
= Dog chasing a duck, kvaa-kvaa
This is fantastic! It's enough to say just GouNienJaza, listeners know the second part and may respond and say it out loud together. At least Chinese say it in their minds and feel happy, united.
4. IDEA IS FULLY CLEAR - Proverb
Xiao Chun Ban Doufu, Yi Qing Er Bai
= Spring onion mixed with tofu, clear green and white
Pretty clear, no problem with this! This proverb was used by former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai. His other famous saying was "When you are drinking the water, don't forget who did the well".
5. OVER-DOING - Proverb
Hua She Tian Zu
= Paint a snake by adding the feet
About overdoing something. First to draw a nice snake, people praise it. Then adding feet onto the snake to make it even better, and it becomes exaggeration. Snake is not right anymore and nobody likes it.
6. UNNECESSARY WASTED EFFORT - Beijing slang
Tuo Ku Zi, Fang Pi
= Taking off trousers and fart
A wasted and unneeded act which will not bring any positive results. Making things far too complicated with extra procedures. To say first part of this saying is enough, the rest is understood and repeated in the mind.
7. PURPOSE DRIVEN - Proverb
Hei Mao, Bai Mao, Zhua Zhu Lao Zhu Jiu Zhi Hao Mao
= Black cat, white cat, as long as catches the mice is a good cat
Purpose gets served. This saying was made famous by party's Secretary General Deng XiaoPing when China begun transition towards market economy. He also used to say When opening windows, also some mosquitoes come in.
8. EGG: ANYWAY YOU ARE WRONG - Proverb
Ji Dan Li Tiao Ku Tou
= Picking the bones from inside the egg
Trying find a mistake which was never done.
9. TIGER: CELEBRATE WHEN YOU CAN - Proverb
Hu Tou She Wei
= Starts with Tiger's head, ends with Snake's tail
Projects in China. Better have a big celebration already in the beginning, project kick-off, as result is unknown. May be there will be no second chance to celebrate.
10. DUCK: LOST BUT NOT GIVE UP - Proverb
Zhu Shu De Ya Zi, Zui Hai Ying
= Cooked duck, soft meat but hard mouth
Somebody has lost the debate but still defends hardly on his opinion. Knows himself there is no hope, but to save his face, still insists on.
11. PIG: THICK SKIN, NOTHING MATTERS - Proverb
Si Zhu Bu Pa Kai Shui Tang
= Dead pig is not afraid of boiling water
Knows himself as wrong or failure but doesn't care about it. It doesn't matter for him if categorized as a failure.
12. CHICKEN: WARNING BY EXAMPLE - Proverb
Sha Ji Gei Hou Kan
= To strain a chicken to show Monkey
To give a warning, to make an example by picking somebody else, but target may be you.
13. CROWS: PEOPLE SAME EVERYWHERE - Proverb (South)
Tian Xia WuYa Yi Ban Hei
= All crows under the sun are black
People are same everywhere (negative).
14. FROG: DON'T HAVE NARROW VIEW - Proverb
Jing Di Zhi Wa
= Frog in the bottom of the well
Don't be like a frog in bottom of the well, which sees only small part of sky through opening of the well.
Foreigners might see perfectionism as boring. But Chinese respect perfectionism. They find the needed balance by using proverbs and sayings to make parodies of incomplete ideas without directly mentioning them.
Chinese mind enjoys to challenge others to make quick creative association. Indirect communication is Chinese word art. It is used in families, workplaces, during meetings and even in negotiations where attitude and tone also have strong roles. New catching sayings are invented daily.
In negotiations, If Chinese hold strong position, they can feel confident and be direct instead of being indirect.
FOREIGNERS often find Chinese indirect communication frustrating, inefficient, and as means of avoiding responsibility.
My advise to foreigners who work with Chinese is to be a good listener. Don't try to change everything in China. If you make a question, try and learn also to listen what is not said but left out. Wait for the answer to come out. Due to Guanxi, relations which is much more than networking, connections, or social media, it is difficult for Chinese to be exact, especially when asked to estimate the future e.g. market size, status of a project, probability of a sales win, schedules. Other factors to remember in China are facekeeping, sensitivity, emotional linkage, respect, and fragmented information availability.
BeijingMan aka Kippo
List of BeijingMan Postings
DiYiCheng Culture Park
PICTURE STORY - ALL-IN-ONE CULTURE PARK
We escaped from Beijing and drove 70km (45miles) highway East to Xiang He, “Fragrant River”, which belongs to Hebei province. In an hour we arrived and found the main gate of DiYiCheng "Grand Epoch City". Meeting of Group of 20, G20 was held there a some years ago.
It is a large tourism and movie-making park, surrounded by 5 km of walls. It has 22 palaces and halls, a lake, water channels, parks and a red 5-star hotel. A lot to see and perfect place to go for photo safari into Chinese traditional culture. DiYiCheng has scale!
Above-1: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
Main gate to is in front of parking place.
Above-2: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
This red building is a 5-star hotel inside DiYiCheng.
Above-3: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
For Chinese Qilin is about imagination and luck. Qi = male, Lin = female.
Qilin is Chinese legendary animal which "has dragon head, deer horn, lion eyes, tigers back, bear waist, snake skin, horse feet and pig tail. Female Qilin often has one horn. Qilin is always kind. It's a symbol of good luck which pushes away disasters. Qilin comes only when times are peaceful, and when a great man is born".
You can find lots of Qilin in Beijing where they compete with door lions. You can see Qilins and lions in pairs in front of banks and office buildings, usually smaller than these two Qilins in DiYiCheng.
Above-4: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
In real life these bridges look even sweeter than in these pictures.
Above-5: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
Duck boats. Big red building is 5-star hotel.
Above-6: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
Corridors built on water, surrounded by lotus flowers. It was a sunny day and walking in the shadow of corridors was convenient.
Above-7: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
Red and green.
Above-8: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
Another good luck Chinese Qilin. No horn, maybe a male.
Above-9: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
At red hotel's yard the main elements are water and fountains.
Above-10: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
Above-11: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
Noisy acrobatic show.
Above-12: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
Watch shows, walk around, get surprised.
Above-13: DiYiCheng Culture Park views.
Above-14: DiYiCheng Culture Park has a lot to walk.
Above-15: DiYiCheng Culture Park views.
Above-16: DiYiCheng Culture Park walls are 5 km long.
Above-17: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
BeijingMan riding on Qilin!
- But on Dragon daily!
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VISITED DiYiCheng Culture Park again (my third time).
Above-18: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
Both big Qilins (picture-3 above) had been vandalized. Both had two holes, 5-10 cm in diameter, in front and in the back of the body, through the body. Like sticks punched through.
This second visit was not as smooth as the first visit. We took rooms at big red 5-star hotel (picture-10). Suites were ok, had even own saunas. Problems came with services, too much "provincial mentality".
Firstly, lunch at DiYiCheng Culture Park's food street was not convincing. Some kitchens in restaurants were in bad shape and had cooks smoking while preparing dishes. Flies. It was an another world, while just one hour drive from Beijing.
Secondly, dinner at restaurant in the red 5-star hotel was not successful. I tried hard but it was too "rural" in spite of high price level. In the bill there was two extra dishes which I never saw, an incompetent try. The bill was corrected, no pay for no-show dishes.
Above-19: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
Long roads around golf garden.
Above-20: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
Hotel apartments around golf garden. Two 2-floor apartments in this building.
Above-21: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
Don't jump! Bed is hard as a stone. Adjust yourself.
Above-22: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
Above-23: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
Roads around golf garden.
Above-24: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
Going around by a golf cart.
Above-25: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
Golf cart was hmm... fixed.
Above-26: DiYiCheng Culture Park views.
Above-27: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
Above-28: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
Red hotel looks impressive. Stayed at up-floor suites which have two rooms, sauna and a wide balcony with view over the culture park.
Above-29: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
Above-30: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
Above-31: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
Dragon fountain, my favorite.
Above-32: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
Dragon fountain, my favorite.
Above-33: DiYiCheng Culture Park.
Dragon fountain, my favorite.
Above-34: DiYiCheng Culture Park map, click to enlarge.
Above-35: Goodbye DiYiCheng Culture Park.
Highway back to Beijing, one hour drive.
Above-36: Bacon, no eggs, rolling towards Beijing.
Grand Epoch City - DiYiCheng at Xiang He
+ Not a small culture park, good target for photo safari
+ One hour drive from Beijing, not too crowded, shows
+ Palaces, fountains, statues
- Services, restaurants, better make it a picnic
**** GOOD FOR FULL DAY PHOTO SAFARI AND PICNIC ****
© BeijingMan aka Kippo 2012, 2013