Rude Taiwanese co-worker

Older than him. He joined the company fresh out of a Taiwanese university. I graduated for some time now and worked in a few different companies since, doing work relevant to the present company.

I can see how this might rub someone the wrong way. You’re more qualified and paid more, but bew, and he has to be your assistant because you don’t have the language skills needed

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I remember in a business visit to a local university we were seeking to fund a number of doctoral students in exchange for them doing research relevant to our company’s needs. He kept interrupting and speaking to the Faculty Dean like he was a child*. I was there as the company’s technical representative, he was there as the administrative one.

*By this I mean, telling the Faculty Dean what to do in his faculty and his lab. It wasn’t presented as a suggestion or a recommendation, but an order.

We were bringing potentially a lot of money to the Faculty in exchange for research work, so Faculty Dean pretended not to notice, while I let him have his moment of glory.

This is the only other interaction I saw and understood so far of him interacting with others.

Sounds to me like he is more senior in this company and you are overestimating your position as a new entrant to this Taiwanese company. I am not surprised that he feels insecure, or the need to impress his authority on you.

“I graduated for some time now” You do not sound that senior. You cannot just walk into a company and be judged on your merits here in Taiwan. You need to go through the long slog of building up seniority.


Are you his direct manager? Or do you manage somebody who manages him? If so, you should reassert authority once you have established a handle on the company.

If not, then he is senior to you (at least in every other way besides salary, role, experience, and necessity to the company, none of which matters.)

This happens in Asia. When you know more than them, they feel threatened. There is a “crab bucket mentally”. I noticed this when doing interviews in some places, like they try to roast you. My Taiwanese co worker always good though, they are amazing.
I would have a one on one to see what the real issue with this guy. Them i will talk to manager if nothing change. He may have performance issue and be defensive.

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Taiwan works on the “triangle” approach. ‘A’ has a problem with ‘B’, so ‘C’ is required to tell ‘B’. That’s how it works. Don’t follow this stupid custom at your own peril.


If only you had seen this, you would have kept that resume in your pocket.

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Have you ever been in your colleague’s situation – namely, the situation of needing to discuss work topics with your colleagues in a language that is not your mother tongue?

If you’ve been in that situation yourself (where you are the non-native speaker, and your colleague is the native speaker), then were you ever in a situation where your language skills were not up to par and your colleague told you so? Did you feel stressed, and do you think your current colleague may be feeling similar stress?

I’m thinking that your colleague might be feeling that he’s making all of the effort to bridge the gap to communicate with you in your language, while you (in his view) are not making an equivalent effort and have an unfair advantage to be able to talk in your native tongue.

Maybe one way of showing effort on your side would be, when you don’t understand, to break down and repeat his sentence phrase by phrase (showing that you were listening), and asking questions at the end of each phrase to confirm your understanding. In other words, instead of discarding his broken English as unacceptable, use his broken English as the basis for a shared understanding. That might help your colleague feel that you are at least partially accepting his broken English, instead of rejecting it outright.

Good analysis, and I agree.

I can’t say I agree here. I don’t really see how rudeness, even if seemingly justified, can benefit you in the workplace. You have to work with this person. Why make enemies? Just swallow your pride, smile, and take the high road. I know – it’s sometimes easier said than done!


Sounds like he is at least as necessary as you are, if you are necessary and can’t communicate without him. :smiley:


man, u r digging ur grave tbh…

That’s pretty Taiwanese to be honest, the lack of reciprocation for these kind of personal information requests.

Did you basically say his English sucked in front of others? Loss of face here is a big deal. Never criticise people directly here unless you are the boss

This guy doesn’t like you, probably resents you get paid more than him but need to rely on him for communication needs. Been there, done that with Taiwanese co-workers.

Still it could be worse, he could secretly dislike you but pretend to be your friend.

Start learning Chinese now if you are going to stick around.


I skipped forward past a good number of posts so maybe something like this as already been said/discussed.

I have never experienced such a situation in Taiwan. Actually, my experiences with co-workers here have been very positive. But I did experience that in Korea. One day, I snapped at him in front of others. It embarrassed him. He never bothered me again.

So basically, treat a bully at work the way a child would treat a bully at school. Fight back and the bully will back off.


I’d say that as a general rule in Taiwan, it’s usually not ok to call someone out in public. However, it’s a whole different story if they embarrass/attack you in public first.

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I agree with this. This particular guy in Korea would say things to me in front of others. I was teaching English at a hakwon (bushiban) and he would say things in the teacher’s lounge area to me.

In the OP’s case, it doesn’t seem like his problem involves others. But he/she must say something back. I don’t see any alternative, unless the OP wants this to drag on and probably intensify.

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Earlier I suggested bringing him a gift, but if that doesn’t resolve the issue then yes I would approach him privately and ask what his beef is.


Reminds me of a funny incident I experienced on a tour bus.

So I’m riding a tour bus to some tourist location, the bus stops, and everyone gets out for an hour of sightseeing. The bus leaves again in one hour and we’re all instructed to be in the bus before departure.

One hour passes, departure time comes, and one guy is not on the bus. So everyone has to wait, and the driver gets impatient. Finally the guy comes running toward the bus, apparently realizing he is late and that everyone is waiting. But instead of getting on the bus immediately, he stops at the food truck next to the bus and buys a delicious local specialty, some local grilled beef on a skewer. The annoyed bus driver muttered to himself, “What the hell? Everyone’s waiting, hurry up man, why are you buying food!” The other passengers in the bus – myself included – also were talking among themselves, surely thinking similar thoughts about the audacity of that guy to take the time to buy food when he’s already late and everyone is waiting on him.

So the guy rushes into the bus, holding his beef skewer in hand, panting and out of breath. The bus driver cast him a scornful look. With a smile, the guy handed the beef skewer to the driver and said, “sorry I’m late – this treat is for you.” Suddenly the bus driver’s attitude completely changed, he smiled an embarrassed smile, and I dare say he felt a little better.

Gifts can work wonders in the right circumstances.


I have a similar experience, except with a slightly different ending.

Instead of buying food, the guy was buying a drink for himself from a vending machine, which he didn’t offer to the driver. Upon returning to the bus, someone said in jest “hey so you gonna buy us drinks for making us wait, or what?”

The next morning, he got on the bus with drinks for everybody.


I used to work in places where I used Chinese all the time and tried my best to improve. If someone in public made a comment about my Chinese, I would probably not like that person.


I had a similar experience with a boss. He couldn’t really speak much English nor understand it. He was also a very angry idiot. Every morning I was logging into the company’s chat hoping not to see another of his endless angry rants blaming everybody and saying he was an example to follow. I will tell the story some other time, it was frustrating but still very comical. Things didn’t end up well though.