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An American in China

Posts Tagged ‘mandarin’

Being Obtuse in Beijing- Meeting Minutes- Business China Style

Posted by w_thames_the_d on December 21, 2009

Just had a meeting and was doing the minutes, and minutes is the right word. Chinese is an obtuse language, its called high context (see here). Basically what that means to anyone from a low context culture is that you have no idea what the hell they are talking about. The communication is elliptical and never seems to make a point, at least to us. All of that is fun to know and all, but there really is a point, and that is…in this type of culture dont try to pin them down on anything.
Back to the point, I am doing meeting minutes, you know we typically would write this:
Goals-increase market share by 15% in fy2010
-Jack will handle sales, commits to develop action plan
-Marie will hire 3 new sales managers to support this activity
but here in this high context world, they also place a premium on harmony and group decision making, which to us may seem like avoidance. The meeting minutes of the above meeting would thus be written as:
Meeting held, joint cooperation and understand and harmony achieved
Goals- continue on our path and grow
-Sales will do their best to support the company with its honorable and lofty goals
-Human resources will do their best to hire only the best employees

Funny thing is that by utilizing style B, every employee but me will understand specifically what they must do, or do they?

Posted in Cultural oddities, Let me educate you... | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »