When you work in a foreign country, you have to deal with culture shock as work etiquette and ethics are quite different in every place you go. Before my first experience in China, I remember I went to a bookstore to get books on Chinese working culture, so I don’t get in trouble when I arrive here.
From those books and my personal experience of working here for 2 years, I have learned a few things.
Losing face concept.
If you are ever in China, make sure you remember it. It is all about paying respect to your superior and colleagues and make sure you don’t make them look bad in any situation especially in public. When you work with them, you should never point out someone’s mistake in front of someone else. Instead you should let them understand their mistake on their own or tell them in private in a nice manner.
Otherwise, the relationship will surely be damaged and it will be challenging to work in a team.
2. Fear of foreigners and being rejected.
I work in a hotel sales, I deal with embassies, however, whenever they have to deal with a foreigner on a corporate contract, they will pass it on to me as they are afraid of being rejected by a foreigner.
3. Working hours.
In China you shouldn’t be working over hours, however everyone does, as it seems not right to leave right in time. For me, as long as you are efficient enough to leave in time, please, go ahead, but here everyone will sit with their phones, doing nothing just not to be the first one to leave the office. Guess what? I don’t care. I leave. You know why? Because I think work-life balance is important. Otherwise, we are not happy.
4. Attention to details.
This is something very difficult for me to deal with. If I get an email, I reply it. When I promise something, I will do my best to keep it. In case I need something, I expect it to be done in time. Sometimes, I send emails to my superiors or colleagues and now I am no longer surprised that I don’t get responses or confirmations. It is still frustrating, that I have to follow up every single detail, but at the same time at least I know where I stand. You learn fast how to double check, triple check and etc.
5. Chinese language.
In many companies, including mine, while recruiting they do not require foreigners to speak Chinese. However, when you come to work here, you wish you did. The operational meetings are in Chinese. While having top management attending it is considered normal to suddenly switch to Chinese and ignore us. Firstly, you get annoyed. However, quite soon you get used to it. Either you catch some words, and pick up something which is important for you or you ignore it all and just do your thing.
These are the things, which make me upset the most. What are your work challenges and would you like to work abroad?