Polite is Rude! Rude is Polite! Black is White!Day is night!

Help me.

I am having a problem getting along with the female Chinese teachers at my school. Nothing bad is happening and they seem like nice people, but lately I sense I am doing something wrong.

And I don’t know wat “rude” is in Taiwan. I know there are different ideas for polite and rude than back home but I don’t know what they are.

I thought I was minding my own business and being respectful of them, and now I worry that they think I’m cold and unfriendly and don’t like them. I’m afraid to be too friendly because they’ll think I’m flirting or kissing their butts. I’m afraid of talking to them. I’m afraid of not talking to them. I’m afraid they’ll think I’m shmoozing. I’m afraid they’ll think I’m not being friendly enough. I’m afraid they’ll think I’m “too noisy”. I’m afraid they’ll think I’m unfriendly.

Will somebody please explain female Chinese coworkers to me? And what is polite, and what is rude? And what I’m supposed to do?

:wall: :wall:

Just do what I did. Tell them you need help learning local manners and ask them to help.
Did wonders for me. Really. Try it.
Then they understand that you are trying and they will politely help you understand the culture.
Also mention that you feel somewhat shy…

I don’t think they’ll tell me, suchAFob. I’ve tried a bit before. They just smile and wink, or do some other gesture that indicates they are doing something polite without actually telling me anything at all.

They will not take a risk of me getting offended or arguing. They will maintain the peace. I will remain in the dark.

Thanks, though, for your quick response. But I think TW women are more mysterious with us gents than they are with you.

You think too much.

Props to the Comrade

131 views and still no answers.

It’s nice to know I’m not alone in my confusion.

[quote=“trebuchet”]131 views and still no answers.

It’s nice to know I’m not alone in my confusion.[/quote]You’re asking us to explain Taiwanese culture, and women, that’s two impossibles.

I already know that I just don’t understand Taiwanese culture and women.

I would like to receive some practical advice on getting along with my Taiwanese coworkers. I don’t think it’s “thinking too much” to think about that. I think it’s professional behavior.

Please, does anybody have any?

I attempted to move this thread to the Teaching English forum. Sorry for the trouble, mods.

[quote=“TainanCowboy”]You think too much.

You think too much.

You think too much.

You think too much.

You think too much.

I understand where you are coming from Trebuchet. At one time I asked the same questions. Do not flippantly reject this advice, there is a lot of wisdom in it for dealing with your female Taiwanese co-workers. Another way of putting it is Chill Out. Your question has been answered, but will you listen…?

I’m not sure I understand the predicament.

You’ll never be one of them. You’ll always be a foreigner. You’ll always be an oddity, a curiousity, the subject of rumor, gossip, ignorant prejudice, Taiwanese-wives tales, superstitions and media smears. You’ll certainly never be just one of girls and be admitted to their inner sanctum of giggly gossip and confidences. But that doesn’t mean they’re thinking ill of you in particular, so long as you just use basic common sense and courtesies. Don’t stare at them too intently, don’t proposition them publicly and don’t fondle yourself in the classroom. Act as you’d act in a formal business setting back home and if they seem to respond in an unusual way don’t worry about it as they’re the ones with a problem, not you.

You need to be a little more specific. I’m not sure where you are getting this feeling that you are doing something wrong or rude.
And if you do something unintentionally to offend, I think Taiwanese people are not so different that you can’t apologize and they’ll not understand and forgive you. Especially if you are sincere.

All good advice.

Unless, in fact, you are the one with the problem?

Any strangenesses we should know about? Multiple facial piercings? Do you weigh 400 lbs.?

My friendliness was defined by my boss as personal PR, too much personal PR will do me no good in the end, she said.
I couldn’t believe friendliness was frowned upon. I called my grandma and she said, “Don’t they know you’re from Minnesota? Tell them, that’s how we are in Minnesota”.
I’ve lived here for 15 years, my father’s been in China for 12 and my sister lives in Shang-Hai. Whenever I was angry and upset with the Taiwanese unfair way of doing things, my father would say, “Remember, you are not Chinese”.
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. It’s a no win situation, just make sure you’re getting $$$$$ paid $$$$$ .


dear trebuchet,

goodness sakes, just read your own post: "i’m afraid, i’m afraid, i’m afraid, i’m afraid, i’m afraid.

heavens to pete, what are you so afraid of???

it seems just from your post that you are projecting something fierce.

your projecting is making you crazy.

are you there to work or to make friends?

sure it’s good to get along with your coworkers, but you seem obsessed with this ideal.

get a grip, be yourself, do your job, interact like a human and all should be just fine.

take a deep breath…ahhhhhh


I have seen what happens when somebody gets himself on the female Chinese teacher shitlist and it’s not pretty. I want to make sure I never get there.

Thanks all, of course I’ll act professional, but what if my definition of
'professional" isn’t the same as theirs? What constitutes professional behavior here? How does it differ from back home? I need a list of rules.

Sometimes I feel like I’m walking through a minefield.


how could being a “professional” be any different wherever you are?

all it means is taking your job performance as your first priority, doing the best you can at that job.

it means acting civil-again, the same no matter where you are-being cordial, polite and putting your job first, that is, if you are a teacher, your first priority is the students and their education.

there is no secret formula for how to be professional for each country you are in. we are all humans.

if your coworkers are any different then they have the problem, not you.


I cannot do my job without interacting with the people around me. There’s a lot of admin at my school, I need to use the computer in my bosses office, I eat lunch in the kitchen with the other staff, etc.

I don’t know what will be perceived at friendliness and what wll be perceived as flirting and what will be perceived as snakelike shmoozing.

Flattery - yes or no?
Chitchat - friendly or annoying?
Minding my own business and doing my job - considerate or unfriendly?

Maybe all of you are the kind of people who are brilliantly adept at every kind of social situation, but I am not. I am not able to finesse some things as smoothly as others, and I would like to learn.

When I first came over here to work (not as a teacher), I made one promise to myself: Do not make the first step, see what people around you do and how they behave, and imitate their behavior and actions.

That have worked pretty well in both social and professional settings. I don’t think I have made any enemies out of it, and I think my surroundings noticed this as a genuine attempt from my side to fit in.
I don’t speak/understand Chinese, so I have to rely on body language and facial expressions initially, until I was adressed in English - not to force anyone to try to reply or speak English if they are uncomfortable with that.

Thank you, X3M.

I don’t understand Taiwanese business culture or Taiwanese social rules. There’s not a whole lot on the internet for “doing business in Taiwan” that applies to a teaching job.

I wasn’t very good at these things back home. I was never able to be my bosses’ pal the way some people can.

If I sound afraid, it’s because I am. I’m trying to do something I’m not very good at in the first place in a culture where the rules are different and nobody will tell me what they are. Whatever worked at home may or may not work here.

I just want to know what else I need to know, before I learn it the hard way. Not making mistakes in the first place is better than making mistakes and having to fix them. But I don’t even know what mistakes I’m not aware of that I could be making unawares. I’m not good at this stuff. I have to be more careful not to be a social oaf than most people.

I have kind of figured out that firm handshakes and and constant eye contact and slapping people on the back is not the way to go. So I know that there are some things that are different. There must be more, right? Could somebody tell me what they are?

Thanks everybody for contributing whatever piece of this mysterious puzzle you might have.