[Elfsea] A look at Chinese etiquette

Lisa Wolfe hlarabella at gmail.com
Sun Jul 1 19:56:34 PDT 2007

These are very interesting tidbits.   Thanks
Just for you... I've never thought your persona as outlandish or rude.

On 7/1/07, angelinblackink <angelinblackink at yahoo.com> wrote:
> *Greetings! *
> * I have decided that, in attempting a better level of understanding
> between western and Chinese persona, to post some info here on Chinese
> etiquette as I know it.  I'm no expert but these are a few traditions of
> etiquette that might be useful to know.  I hope that, after this, my persona
> won't seem so outlandish and rude.*
> *Xie xie,*
> *Xue Xianxian*
>   **
> **
> *Etiquette:*
> China has often been referred to as the Nation of Etiquette. According to
> many westerners, however, Chinese people often act in what appears to be a
> discourteous manner. The reason for this anomaly lies in the different
> cultural and historical views of social decorum. In order to avoid
> unnecessary mistakes and embarrassment during communications, a better
> understanding of Chinese etiquette is essential.
> *Key concepts in understanding Chinese culture:*
> Guanxi - Throughout much of Chinese history, the fundamental glue that has
> held society together is the concept of *guanxi*, relationships between
> people.
> Mianxi - Face - Losing face, saving face and giving face is very important
> and should be taken into consideration at all times.
> **
> Mianzi, is a reflection of a person's level of status in the eyes of his
> or her peers. Having 'face' means you are viewed by your peers, superiors,
> and subordinates as one in harmony with the prevailing disposition of
> society. It is a subtlety that is not openly discussed in Chinese society,
> but exists as a conversational skill nonetheless. As a foreigner, it is not
> necessary to take Mianzi too seriously when engaged in discussions that may
> be confusing. Mianzi can best be understood as the avoidance of
> embarrassment in front of others. Otherwise, it can be considered to be
> impolite.
> Li - Originally *li* meant to sacrifice, but today it is translated as the
> art of being polite and courteous. Proper etiquette preserves harmony and
> face.
> Keqi - *Ke* means guest and *qi* means behavior. It not only means
> considerate, polite, and well mannered, but also represents humbleness and
> modesty.
> **
> *Getting to Know Each Other *
>    - The Chinese usually do not like to deal with strangers, and will
>    make frequent use of go-betweens. Whenever possible, try to use established
>    relationships, or an intermediary known by both sides, to make the first
>    contact
>    - Chinese prefer to be formally introduced to someone new. This
>    applies to both Chinese and foreigners.
> *Social distance, Touching & Gestures *
>    - Every culture defines proper distance. Westerners, particularly
>    Americans, find that the Chinese comfort zone regarding distance is a bit to
>    close for their comfort.
>    - Instinctively Westerners may back up when others invade their
>    space. Do not be surprised to find that the Chinese will simply step closer.
>    - The Chinese do not like to be touched, particularly by strangers.
>    Do not hug, back slap or put an arm around someone's shoulder.
>    - Do not be offended if you are pushed and shoved in a line. The
>    Chinese do not practice the art of lining up and courtesy to strangers in
>    public places is not required.
>    - People of the same sex may walk hand-in-hand as a gesture of
>    friendship in China.
>    - Western gestures that are taboo in China include:
>       - Pointing the index finger--use the open hand instead.
>       - Using the index finger to call someone-use the hand with
>       fingers motioning downward as in waving.
>       - Finger snapping
>       - Showing the soles of shoes.
>       - Whistling is considered rude.
>    - Chinese customs that are annoying to Westerners:
>       - Belching or spitting on the street
>       - Lack of consideration when smoking and failure to ask
>       permission to smoke
>       - Slurping food
>       - Talking while eating
> *Gift Giving:*
> 'Courtesy demands reciprocity', goes an old Chinese saying, and the advice
> is an indispensable part of social interactions. It is important to both
> private and business relationships. The best choice for the initial meeting
> is a gift that expresses some unique aspect of your country. The gift
> packaging should be red or any other festive color. White and black are
> ominous and should be avoided. It is not proper, and is even considered to
> be unfortunate, to take a clock as a gift or to choose one having to do with
> the number four, which sounds like death in Chinese. Even though even
> numbers are considered as good luck, the number four is an exception. Do not
> brag about your gift in front of the recipient, and you should use both
> hands when presenting it. Generally, the recipient may graciously refuse the
> present when first offered. In this case, you should correctly assess the
> situation and present it once again. If the recipient did not open your
> gift, it does not mean that he or she is not interested in it. It is polite
> to open it after you leave.
> Once upon a time, a man went on a long tour to visit his friend with a
> swan as a gift. But it escaped from the cage on the way and in his effort to
> catch it, he got hold of nothing but a feather. Instead of returning home,
> he continued his journey with the swan feather. When his friend received
> this unexpected gift, he was deeply moved by the story as well as the
> sincerity. And the saying 'the gift is nothing much, but it's the thought
> that counts.' was spread far and wide.
> Contrary to Westerners, odd numbers are thought to be unfortunate. So
> wedding gifts and birthday gifts for the aged are always sent in pairs for
> the old saying goes that blessings come in pairs. Though four is an even
> number, it reads like death in Chinese thus is avoided. So is pear for being
> a homophone of separation. And a gift of clock sounds like attending other's
> funeral so it is a taboo, too. As connected with death and sorrow, black and
> white are also the last in the choice. Gift giving is unsuitable in public
> except for some souvenirs. Your good intentions or gratitude should be given
> priority to but not the value of the gifts. Otherwise the receiver may
> mistake it for a bribe
> *Family Visiting:*
> In China, a gift is also necessary when visiting a family. But it is not
> as complex as the above situation. Usually, flowers, common fruits and food
> are okay. As for alcohol, you had better check whether the person enjoys it
> or if they have such a hobby. During lunch time, hosts will ask you to have
> more food or alcohol. If you do not want to disappoint them, you can have a
> little more according to your situation. If you are truly full, you had
> better refuse directly, otherwise, the hospitable hosts will continue to
> refill your bowl.
> ------------------------------
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