After a brief introduction of this blog, here brings us to the second part — secret social codes you might need to know to understand Chinese better.

    Although I am not an anthropologist and I was raised in a traditional chinese family, some of us chinese behavior always kept puzzling me: Why in our history text book, there’s only one single sentence describing the 10-year-culture-revolution but they keep the whole story of how DaYu successfully resolved the flood crisis 5000 years ago. And why my mum bought a dozen eggs and tons of fruit to the hospital when the patient she visited was totally not allowed to eat anything at the time.

    I’ve started thinking and observing since I was in high school, and the most fascinating thing about chinese behavior is that: They only present HALF of the true story, hiding the other half deep down in their hearts (and then put 5 locks on it.). It’s more like when you are cleaning the room and expecting your guests, you keep the room tidy and suck the dirt out of every corner of your house. The only difference is that chinese people will suck the dirt out but hide them under their newly bought carpet.

    So, let’s just name the first code as “Hiding-The-Dirt-Under-The-Carpet-Code”.

    You may ask whyyyyy would we wanna do that…I can assure you, the Hiding Code was created mostly from good intentions. We want to give pleasant feelings to our guests, we don’t want the dirt to bother them. But the problem is that we often go too far when pursuing this goal, and end up forgetting to do the very basic thing. So damage control time: “We tried our best but absolutely there’s no time to clean the floor, just put the carpet on the pile of dust, Maggie is arriving in 2 minutes!”

    But, the other benefit coming out of the Hiding Code is that we actually can hide the disgusting things under the carpet, and creating a false impression to our guests. And after years of practicing, we find out that it really works! That’s when the innocent Hiding Code is taken advantage of by those ill intentions, and it really does an excellent work contributing our bad reputations…

    Well, this blog is not built to blame the Chinese so lets just focus on the how to understand this Code and use it in your daily work. Here’s one more example:

    When you are having some really bad days in the week and come across a Chinese friend who’s not that close to you, and the boring grooming talk begins like:”Mike! Long time no see, how’ve you been?” The least you wanna do is telling him/her that you’ve been having some horrible crisis and haven’t slept for two days. Because in that way, this friend of yours will be obliged to care about you and concern about what happened. Chinese don’t want to trouble their friends, so the right answer in the above situation would be “I’m fine”, or ”Yeah I’m OK” without actually bring up any of your personal problems. Just keep the true story to yourself. * BUT, when it comes to the very close friends. You can just tell him/her what’s really going on, s/he will be more than willing to give you a hand if s/he could. Chinese people are warm-hearted and smart, so don’t let the Hiding Code get in the way of your friendship with Chinese.

If you find this example weird and ridiculous..Fine, I will come up with a better example next time. LOL.


5 thoughts on ““Hiding-The-Dirt-Under-The-Carpet-Code”

  1. I also really like the ‘code naming’ a lot! lol “hiding dirt under the carpet code” I like it! we have something here in america called ‘act like everthing is fine code’ . we act like we are so great with our multiculturalsim, but in reality no one hangs around other races genuinely. blacks stay with the blacks, mexicans with the mexicans, especially this is true with the vietnamese. they really seem to pretend no ones else here in america exists excepts them. they even name their neighborhoods ‘little saigon’. It’s as if they are in vietnam, no matter that they are in america. Actually I personally do not live by this code, I really do have many different culture friends, but they are all intellectually above average people that is the key. dumb people hang in their own group like cows. the smart ones, like to get out and investigate other ways of life. anyway, my new code is not as good as your ‘hiding dirt under the carpet’ code but its my first one for americans.

    • Hahahaha. I know I used to be taught the Melting Pot Theory, but some of my friends who went to American for grad school told me they couldnt find the chance to talk to a real American. My opinion is, this is more of a personal issue than a culture one. You cant blame them. Ooh. And you know what, I have a friend who came from US told me when he saw other Americans in Beijing, he really wanted to talk to them. But they usually just turned their head to the other side as if they were super cool to talk to other americans…That is really odd, right?

      • That’s funny, the Americans won’t talk to each other in other country. ha ha. Maybe because we are trying to be the ‘pioneer’. We want to feel like we ‘discovered’ the other country, and if we see another American, it’s like “damn…what the hell are they doing here?” “can’t I go anywhere without them showing up, too?”

        I didn’t feel this way at all (lying) when I was in China. Actually I did maybe one time when the Westerners were acting like idiots, loud obnoxious. I don’t know if they were from Europe or America or Australia though because I avoided the loud ones. I did however enjoy going to Salvadors Coffee House when I was in Kunming because in Kunming you have more the feeling that you are in very remote area, and it was cool to go there once a week and eat spaghetti or something and check in with the westerners. The owner of that place is from the United States and a very nice guy who speaks good Mandarin but says he cannot learn the characters however, too hard. Meeting there with the westerners was like we were all on some kind of exotic expedition or something…the real explorers visiting the rest of the world..ha ha. Actually I did love every minute of being in China whether I run into westerners or not. I like going anywhere new though, Even here is California where I am born and raised, I like to go to the towns I have never been before and feel like I am ‘world traveler’. Cannot go to Mexico anymore though for a nice vacation-Mexico is way too violent and crazy right now. too bad because as everywhere else, the regular Mexican people are great.

  2. Pingback: The I-Don’t-Know-You-That-Much-Code | Watching The Chinese

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