Why are people so different at work and in life?

I had a painful work experience, which I wrote about in another thread, which led me to realize Taiwan does suck a lot when it comes to work. Low pay, tyrant bosses, long hours, petty coworkers, outdated work conditions and so on. But what hit me is how much all this contrasts with how Taiwanese are in general - pleasant, polite, and easygoing. Why is this? Why aren’t Taiwanese walking around filled with rage given the terrible conditions they have to deal with at work? You can see this in Japan where everybody looks robotic, or Hong Kong where everybody looks depressed and service everywhere is shit.
Before anybody thinks I’m this naive, idealistic Taiwan lover, I got lots of bad things to say about Taiwan, but I can’t doubt that compared to Chinese, Hong Kong people, Japanese, and Koreans, Taiwanese are pretty nice and chilled.

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They are more depressed than enraged. It is part of the passive nature of people here.

Locals are generally passive and are non-confrontational. The only ones I’ve met who are straightforward lived or studied in the States so a bit of that Western culture came back with them. Taiwanese workplace culture is very passive-aggressive, so there’s a lot of backbiting that happens. The best way to survive is to try to build guanxi and to do your job well. Less complaints, more items ticked off your to do list. If there’s anything I liked so far working here as a foreigner, at least in the tech field, if you do well you become indispensable. Sorta. Plus points if you’re a native English speaker.

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I worked as a teacher in Taiwan for 4 yrs and noticed the same thing and hated life. Then I came back to Taiwan and stayed for 4 months as a visitor and loved it. Very hard to explain. Why was life so great just wondering the streets eating market food and buying beers at the 7-11 compared to working. I think it has to do with the pressures from the bosses who have very little gap on wages to expenses. But that said a lot of the bosses are very wealthy so tough answer.


And thinking about it I have been fired a couple of times for resisting the awful work conditions. Which really only pisses off the Taiwanese teachers cause foreigners can make up to double their pay with half the responsibly and hours. So I just wouldn’t talk about it or get involved too much at work when the subject comes up.

I agree , when i was just visiting everything seemed so relaxed. Living here is another ball of wax.

I’ve been thinking the same thing recently.
Unless your job pays amazingly well or someone has roots here, there is no major draw to stay.

Now to retire here? Would be amazing, living off of a foreign higher than usual pension.

I also think Taiwan suits the uber rich very well.
If you want to buy anything other than cheap biandangs and buy decent clothes or electronics it costs a lot… much more than the west.
I also believe the only reason street food is so cheap here is so that the slave class (working class) can still survive to keep slaving away for the rich. Same goes for scooters and gas… gotta let the slaves survive somehow.

Meanwhile all other items are priced in the range of the elite only. This is not just Taiwan but seems to be a progressing trend worldwide. Keeps the plebs from staging a revolution when they are working just to survive

And then we wonder why they are like a pent up ball of rage ready to blow.


Cause Taiwanese people aren’t as whiny and entitled as you?

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Just chilling, walking the streets and eating food is more relaxed than being immersed in a high pressure work environment? Who knew?

Pretty sure this is the same situation for every country in the world.

Yeah why is the service in Hong Kong so shit, I got the worst service in the airport from two different restaurants.

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I was in HK for about half a year and also noticed that service is shite there.

My observation was because everyone is so damn close to each other (at least on HK Island and parts of Kowloon), you’re bound to get on each other’s nerves.

Hongkongers are just blunt and rude in general. They’ve always been that way, probably for the reason @ranlee mentioned.


I don’t think you understood my question. In other places like Hong Kong, people are pretty much as miserable outside as they are at work. Compare average service in HK to Taiwan and it’s like apple to oranges.

Yeah, I like to visit HK but only for a few days. It’s just too damn crowded and boxed in.

Thanks for sharing. :mushroom:


Another way to put it is why are Taiwanese so much nicer and polite than Chinese mainlanders, Hong Kong people, or Southeast Asians, but at the same time so petty and tyrannical at work?


Lols is back!! Oh how I’ve missed him/her/it.

I was trying to order food and the teller was playing a game on their cellphone, and then said “what?” and I repeated myself and she still didn’t listen to me and then she said “can you say it again” and I had to do it for the third time because I really wanted to eat that fucking food but I was so pissed off, looked at the manager and he was playing the same game so I gave up right there in terms of laying a complaint.

Second restaurant was an ice cream shop and the guy was nowhere to be found, and eventually I saw him walk out of the kitchen of another restaurant and I was I told him he should be in his store to serve customers and he said sorry a million times and gave me 30% discount.

I had a 7 hour layover too >.<

Don’t understand why you included Southeast Asians. Some SE Asians, such as Malaysians, Filipinos and Vietnamese are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

Mainland Chinese are nasty (not all… I’ve met a lot of cool and nice Mainlanders) perhaps due to being hardened by decades of communist oppression and being taught to only look out for themselves.

Don’t have enough experience with HongKongers to make a judgement one way or the other.

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Yeah I just got back from HK last week.

Every time you go into a restaurant you are afraid to get your head bitten off from the staff.

Just no patience whatsoever, a lot of scowling.
The pace of everything is just crazy.

It’s like , excuse me sir for being a customer and paying YOU money! Singapore is so much more friendly too.

Also HK staff told off my daughter for being naughty all the time, rarely happens in Taiwan (but she deserves it so I just laughed …She was shocked that adults would reprimand her directly …I found it easier than me shouting at her lol).

HK has too many foreign tourists and visitors now and is already really packed, and the costs there are so much compared to Taiwan, the food is double the price!
It’s getting really hard to get cheap food there, the locals at bottom end will really struggle.

Overall its still a cool place to visit and probably live, for a while. My two cents.

Bingo. The question of the hour.

Probably because MONEY is involved.
MONEY is the true God of Chinese and Taiwanese.

You can never have TOO much MONEY.

To get MORE money, traditional thinking says somebody gets LESS.

Ask a lot of Taiwanese , they don’t believe in concept of growing the pie or sharing the pie. I believe they mostly think the pie is a fixed size and it is to be eaten now and not later.
That’s MY family’s pie and not to be shared with strangers.

Am I being unfair ?
I have worked in many Taiwanese organisations . I have seen things from the inside. They ain’t very pretty.

Most friendships are based on some kind of current mutual advantage especially monetary advantage.
So when we will have the interesting phrases, we didn’t do business yet,. But let’s make friends.

And the shareholder fights, here, oh Lord. Regular business owners routinely hire gangsters to threaten each other.

We know nepotism is absolutely rife here too with a Lot of corruption in the workplace. But again I have little experience of outside of Taiwan. It could be similar in many nations under the surface. Nepotism is probably amplified here because it’s a small island with very few immigrants , tight professional circles , wealth and connected business families going back generations (VIA, HTC, Gogoro, Formosa Plastics…What do they have in common).
Taiwan semi state banks with usually one family oening a controlling share and the government owning the rest.
Very large numbers of private SMEs.
KMT long term control .
Massive electronics companies still controlled by same families over generations .

However all told the biggest problem are poor economic opps, work conditions have slowly improved over the years. Less new business are opening and prospering than before because of harsher competition, low birth rate…I don’t know.

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