[Mageia-discuss] Cultural difference: indirect request <---> direct request
Marja van Waes
marja11 at xs4all.nl
Fri Jul 13 21:24:22 CEST 2012
As said in the other Cultural difference thread, I'm putting this in a
I know of a very bright Chinese woman who works in the IT, who went to
great lengths to do something she thought a colleague had asked her to
do, while he actually never asked her.
What was the case?
He (my brother Remi) has friends who adopted two Chinese girls. One of
the girls, Eline, was a foundling from Chongqing. She was very concerned
about her biological parents, always asking her adoptive mother, Wilma,
questions about them.
Then Remi had to transfer work to Jocelyn. When he heard she came from
Chongqing, he told her about Eline.
Jocelyn then said she'd try to find them. She did a tremendous job, she
contacted local media and even found a local television station that was
willing to broadcast the story about Eline at prime time. Later she put
up posters. Then she got help from a journalist who continued searching
and contacted her later, to tell her he though he'd found them. DNA
tests have proven he was right.
Later when Eline's adoptive mother Wilma talked to Jocelyn, she was
amazed to hear that Jocelyn said that Remi had *asked* her to help find
the girl's parents, while Remi had always said that Jocelyn had
spontaneously *offered* her help.
So Wilma inquired further. In fact, both told the same story: Remi had
told about Eline and Jocelyn had said she'd help find her Chinese parents.
The only difference was in the interpretation: When Remi told about
Eline's wish to see her biological parents, Jocelyn interpreted that as
a request to go look for them, while for Remi it was just something he
told because of the coincidence that she came from the same region,
without expecting her to do anything.
Wilma told us that in China it is normal to ask for things in an
indirect way. It is also what I read here:
"When Chinese intend to ask a favor.........the most discrete, indirect
approach is used."
For Eline the misunderstanding between Remi and Jocelyn turned out
really well, though. She is thriving a lot better since she met her
biological parents and stays in touch with them. :-D
Oh, by the way: Jocelyn had studied in England, she knew the Western
I don't know how long it would take me to learn to recognise indirect
requests or to ask for a favour in an indirect way, if I moved to China
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