The Chinese workplace is a whole different animal to that of the West, as is your Chinese boss. To help you figure it out, here are some tips on the Do’s and Don’ts of dealing with your Chinese superiors.
Know Your Place
Age and hierarchy are very important in China, both in the workplace and in the country at large. Even if you’re coming into a Chinese job as the hot new hire or an industry expert, be sure to acknowledge the boundaries of your position. Always remain modest and respect your elders and superiors. Never attempt to override or bypass your line manager or boss.
Use the Right Words
An easy way to win immediate points from your Chinese superiors is to make sure you address them correctly, with their surname and then their work title. It can be tricky to know which title to use when you first start, so either ask your boss directly how they like to be addressed or follow the lead of your colleagues. Also, be sure to say the polite “nín” (您) rather than the less formal “nǐ” (你) when referring to your boss as “you”.
A common way for colleagues to build trust in China is to give complements and demonstrate a common way of thinking. Be sure to praise your new boss and the company for their merits rather than picking out problems. React positively to any task you’re given and always appear happy to be at work, even if you’re secretly dying for your bed. The more positively you react to your boss and the job, the more positively he/she is likely to react to you and your work.
Honesty and modesty are very important in Chinese society, so if you do something wrong in the workplace, be sure to own up to it and apologize. Don’t just slink to your desk if you’re late or hope a mistake will go unnoticed. Being upfront and accountable will earn you trust and respect in the long run.
Chinese people typically work long hours, and overtime is part of the course. Whenever possible, go above and beyond for your job and show your boss and your Chinese colleagues that you’re pitching in and working hard. Never leave before your official hours are up without prior permission, and stay a little later when you can, just to show willing. When in work, try to complete your tasks as quickly and efficiently as possible, but always have a long list of new ones on hand so you’re never found idle.
Advice may well be welcomed by your Chinese boss, but be sure to offer it at the right time and place. While you might find Chinese people very direct about some things, such as talking about your weight or your pimples, they are generally not very direct when it comes to criticism in the workplace. Present your concerns delicately and in private. The most important thing in any Chinese relationship is the concept of ‘face’. Do not allow your boss to lose it on your account.
Be a ‘No Person’
If your Chinese boss makes a direct request of you, be sure to agree to do it right away. Your boss wants you to make their life easier, so be a “yes person” as much as possible and give their ideas a go, even if you don’t necessarily agree with them. Saying “no” to your boss is not the done thing in China, so avoid it whenever you can.
Miss the Signals
As stated above, Chinese people tend to communicate in a less than direct way in a work environment. It’s therefore essential that you keep an ear open for shrouded criticism. For example, if your boss calls a meeting in which he praises you, points out some flaws and then praises you again, it’s the flaws you need to pay attention to. You just got a Chinese-style dressing down!
Different people like things done different ways, but if you’re precious about your particular way of doing things, that’s not going to go down well in your new China job. Chinese society is all about fitting in and working together, so go with the grain rather than against it and don’t sweat the small stuff.
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Keywords: Chinese superior do’s and don’ts Chinese boss tips
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From personal experience, I would say that this article is fairly correct. Would following the Chinese work etiquette make you a bootlicker by the western standard? Probably. But perhaps a more important question is: Would following the western standard in China make you seem like a problematic employee?
Nov 22, 2017 09:18 Report Abuse
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