What are Chinese people like is an audacious topic, and one like I often want to tackle. Having focused on recruiting since 1997, I dig in on these kind of topics. Each person in China is different. They have different personalities and different family and school backgrounds. Finally, they have different work experiences before they come in the door to work for you. Here, I can only relate some common issues that finally could impact hiring.
China on the outside is a diligent, hospitable, deep feeling country.I am glad to have made it my home. I do not mean to criticize China below, but glad to open eyes to the context more.
Let me tell an old story to begin. From 1991-2006, I had deep experiences in the heartland of China in places like Anhui, Qinghai, Sichuan, Henan, Yunnan, Inner Mongolia and Hebei where I got married.
What are Chinese People Like? Let’s Look At Some Perplexing Examples
One event happened again and again, and it took me years to get my head around what was happening.
When I would get off the train or a bus and looked like I might need another bus or taxi, there would be competition for my business as Westerners were known to have money. An aggressive man or woman would take me by the arm and start dragging me toward their vehicle. It would happen consistently. It irritated me, and I would always shake myself free and never take their vehicle. I wondered why they would make enemies like that consistently,
Only with years of reflection could I see that Chinese people have poor boundaries. People could boldly cross their boundaries and get them to enter their vehicle usually, Only the rare person like me would not get in their vehicle. Chinese people in public wanted harmony and were not sure of their own boundaries. Dragging people in worked, and so they always did it. Only gradually is this base changing.It can lead to relatives influencing your workers in ways that are hard to understand. Personal boundaries that you may understand are not always that way here. On another tack, you could also look at Chinese Morality.
What About All This Talk About Face?
Chinese people talk a lot about face. Why is that? China is a low self esteem country. From the top to the bottom, you can see China’s thin skin. They are so easily hurt and do not know themselves well enough to overcome being a country that talks a lot about face. The base is that Chinese parents and teachers get kids to learn thousands of Chinese characters by criticizing them day and night, If the kids do bad in school, then the school calls and criticizes the parents who then criticize the kid more. They are a part of a big country and find their value in being part of a group, since they often do not feel worthy in themselves. It also means they have a deep desire to prove themselves which can lead to hiding issues and much more. It can also lead to extreme though uneasy diligence.
China is very class conscientious. For example, Chinese taxi drivers commonly say to me, “I have no culture.” This deeply puzzles me as they have tons more Chinese culture in their being than I do. They are more pure Chinese and deep in culture, and yet they would say they have none. This also took me some years to unravel. Taxi drivers usually only have a 9th grade education and often even less. This means they are not ‘civilized’ and therefore lack culture. This means they are talking about high culture or some standard for proper behavior. We Americans are egalitarian. We mostly see that “all men are created equal” while Chinese are Darwinian and see some people have evolved farther than others. It may be a cause of top down leadership that is common here.
More Thought on This Great Country
Chinese people are pragmatic. They try everything and do what works sometimes whether legal or not. This can improve their innovation, but also leads to more IP theft. Additionally, Chinese treat friends great, and often the rest like dirt. Get bad bosses over them or even bosses they do not respect and anything goes. The worst say Chinese Do Not Scam Like That.
While individualism has gone wild in the West, China is still not post modern and even tribal in some ways. Note, their ID cards still say what tribe they belong to. Most Chinese belong to Han. This tribalism has good and bad to it as most weaknesses and strengths do. At minimum, it makes them much more deeply relational than is common in the West. You can see many more articles in our Chinese Culture Archive and Lao Tzu thinking too in another SHI article. China is an amazing country which takes a lot to understand.