Diary of a Brazilian in China
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Why my Chinese friend can't say "sorry"?

Popularity 16Viewed 13432 times 2013-7-16 00:07 |Personal category:Problems with a Chinese|System category:Others| Chinese, friend, sorry, house, share

I live in a share house in Japan and one of my neighbors is Chinese. She is cheerful and caring, but sometimes I just can't afford her. The elevator in my building doesn't have sensor in the door, so if nobody holds the bottom to keep the door open, the door closes and makes a sandwich with the person who is entering or leaving the elevator. The person who gets inside the elevator first or the person who leaves the elevator last usually holds the "open" bottom, but she never holds the "open" bottom. I always forget it, so I was pressed by the door many times. There was a time, she got into the elevator first, then a Japanese guy, then me. When I was entering the elevator, the door made a sandwich of me. Then, I told the Japanese guy it usually happens to me when I'm with her. He looked at her and said: "Why don't you hold the 'open' bottom?". She answered in a very naturally tom: "If she is going to be pressed by the door, she should press the bottom from outside". These words kept echoing in my mind. How can she say something like that? Any normal person would say sorry and press the bottom, but she simply push the responsibility to me. Days later, we had to take the Japanese proficiency test together. Again, we had to go into the elevator together. Then, I did what she usually does. She got angry with me, we discussed, I got tired of listening her shouting in the street, I closed my ears with my fingers and she scratched my arms. I couldn't believe in it, but yes, she scratched my arms. We ended up going to the test place separately. Later, she wrote "sorry" by email, but it was too late and I don't feel like being friends with a person like her. But I keep arguing myself. Is that normal to Chinese people don't say sorry and try to make the other person guilty when it is so clear that she is wrong? Or did I become too Japanese since I've been in Japan for 7 years? Japanese people are way too polite and say "sorry" even when they are not supposed to. 

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Reply Report elzach 2013-7-16 09:14
first of all, don't even try a comparison of Japanese vs Chinese, they are light years apart, especially in manners...guess who's behind :)

second, all Asians have face-saving issues, but the Chinese have them to the extreme. If saying "sorry" is implying admitting fault, then it might not come.
Reply Report xiaocao青 2013-7-16 13:51
Please remember one can't stand for all. What your Chinese neighbor did doesn't mean all Chinese people aren't polite.  Every one has his own personality. I think your neighbor is just a special.
Reply Report lscat123 2013-7-16 16:16
I think it is just her behavior. I uesd to bothered by somebody's selfishness, too.
Reply Report echolxyz 2013-7-16 18:15
one person can't represent all chinese .In fact, wherever you  come from and wherever you go ,there is always such a special person
Reply Report RonJaDa 2013-7-16 20:07
I think part of the reason is in the different approach to "from craddle to coffin care"  that seems to be sometimes too big in the west.

She likely believes that it is the individuals responsibility to take care of them self.  A friend of mine in China would actually get angry with me if I trip or got squeezed by the elevator doors.  I agree that the Chinese do focus on saving face more than other cultures but I do not believe this to be a face saving incident.  

The attitude that I have seen is "You need to take responsibility for your own actions and saftey." Her feeling might be "If I held it for you once I would be accepting the responsibility for your saftey and I don't want that responsibility.
Reply Report youknowhat 2013-7-16 22:01
first of all STOP generalizing the whole population for me here. 2nd of all you're way too over reacting yourself just realx and enjoying yourself there as a foreigner! someone from nu york
Reply Report amaryllis 2013-7-17 10:10
RonJaDa: I think part of the reason is in the different approach to "from craddle to coffin care"  that seems to be sometimes too big in the west.

S ...
I agree, I don't think she is correct, but she is not totally wrong too. Since as she said, you could hold outside yourself. If you could do it yourself, why you want other's help every time?
Reply Report Kevinfly 2013-7-17 10:51
I am sorry to hear such thing again, actually I met such person in my daily life many times, too. but most people would hold the button for others, I  realy hope all of us could fell happy when we help others.
Reply Report EHI 2013-7-17 19:50
The writer of this blog post needs to grow up and learn to take care of herself while using the elevator. No one in the world is obliged to hold elevator doors opened for anyone else unless his/her occupation is an elevator operator. Getting caught up in trivial matters in regards to personal relationships only proves the writer herself lacks the intelligence to function in a world of different cultures and communication styles.
Reply Report elencw 2013-7-17 22:33 (Pending for approval)
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Reply Report RonJaDa 2013-7-18 14:46
richardfisher: The Englishman and the Chinese Singer...

It was so interesting to read about your selfish Chinese friend. I have a similar problem.
I'm an Englishma ...
I am not sure if the lady you are talking abouts problem is "selfishness".  In my opinion the act of not holding the elevator door can not be viewed as selfish"  inconsiderate and sometimes rude maybe.  If she pushed the close button knowing people were coming that is sellfish.

With the lady you talk about you may need to appoligize, regardless of who is wrong or what you think  to have a chance of recovering the relationship.

In the future I suggest try to restrict your straight talk to actions or lack of actions rather than character assination terms like "selfish".

Critisism need to be constructive and show the person what behaviour changes are being requested. A better approach would be to set house hold rules or tell her the expected behaviour of guests is that they clean up after them selves.

To me it sounds like she was a giving and fun person in that she shared so much time and conversation.  I wish you good luck in resolving this dilema.
Reply Report Lilly03031402 2013-7-18 15:32
   ,I do not like the people like the girl either.LOL,It doesn't mean all Chinese people like her...
Reply Report elencw 2013-7-18 19:54
richardfisher: The Englishman and the Chinese Singer...

It was so interesting to read about your selfish Chinese friend. I have a similar problem.
I'm an Englishma ...
Hi Richard, thanks for sharing your story too. This is what we can say it is a true friendship. Hmm, actually, reading it, I have to admit that I may identify with her in some points.

When I was a child, my parents used to hit me a lot and I still have a very clear memory about it. It was a hell. When they hit me, they used to say terrible words like "I wish you have never been born", "you are a trash", "you worth nothing" and so on. Even nowadays, if someone says things that my parents used to say when they were punching me, I get in panic and close myself completely.

I don't know if it is the case of your friend, but the reason she closed herself can be something similar. I guess you can try to talk to her as nothing has happened, like "I have bought this food, do you want to share some?", then talk trivial things. She may act as if nothing has happened.

I have checked your iMagicEnglish website. I'll will try this method to learn Chinese, then I'll tell you the result.

I've also checked your iMagicSongs website. Interesting! I'm a bad amateur singer... sometimes sing on www.karaokeparty.com. Someday I will take classes on singing.

I hope both of us solve our problems with our Chinese friends soon.

Regards
Elen
Reply Report elencw 2013-7-18 20:36
elzach: first of all, don't even try a comparison of Japanese vs Chinese, they are light years apart, especially in manners...guess who's behind :)

second, a ...
That's true, Japanese and Chinese are just the opposite. Japanese are way too polite and hide their feelings, so it's difficult to know their true intentions and thoughts. Chinese are just straightforward and easy going, but when some of them get angry they are noisy as an ambulance car.
Reply Report elencw 2013-7-18 20:38
xiaocao青: Please remember one can't stand for all. What your Chinese neighbor did doesn't mean all Chinese people aren't polite.  Every one has his own personal ...
Thanks for your good words. I feel comfortable knowing your opinion. Yes, I do have another Chinese friend here in Japan. She is kind and quite, she never shouts or get angry.
Reply Report elencw 2013-7-18 20:41
echolxyz: one person can't represent all chinese .In fact, wherever you  come from and wherever you go ,there is always such a special person
Thanks for you opinion. I understand it now... it's not all Chinese who acts like her... good news!!
Reply Report ╰☆Almee☆╰ 2013-7-18 23:25
not every chinese behaves like your chinese friends, china is a well cultivated country with long historty ,since the ancient times , we have been told to be polite、considerate and modest, and our education has highlightened all of the virtues and most of us are able to abserve and pratice, of course there are still some of us that is ingorant of those , but the number of whom just account for only a fraction ,just like every country can never ensure all citizens to be endowed with every good  manner ,isn't it , so I would like to tell you that the chinese you meet is just a exception not a common
Reply Report richardfisher 2013-7-19 18:04
Lilly03031402:    ,I do not like the people like the girl either.LOL,It doesn't mean all Chinese people like her...
Hi RonJaDa,
Well, my plan was to just give her plenty of space, and say nothing, except to say that I loved her yesterday, I love her today, and I will love her tomorrow.
After seven days, yesterday morning she emerged with a smile and a greeting.
Then she cooked a big fish and came to the table to share it with me.
She was smiling and chatting about our plans to sing together, as though nothing bad had happened between us at all. In fact, she is so much better than she was! Amazing! It must have been so difficult to come out of the dark place that she was in. Now I have her back more than ever. And No, we are not romantically involved - this is a friendship of another kind. Thanks for your thoughts and best wishes. Richard
Reply Report richardfisher 2013-7-19 18:09
elencw: Hi Richard, thanks for sharing your story too. This is what we can say it is a true friendship. Hmm, actually, reading it, I have to admit that I may  ...
Hi Elencw,  I'm sorry to hear about your upbringing. I hope that you can feel that you can now just 'let it go' and begin to grow. As for my friend, my plan was to just give her plenty of space, and say nothing, except to say that I loved her yesterday, I love her today, and I will love her tomorrow by text only of course.
After seven days, yesterday morning she emerged with a smile and a greeting.
Then she cooked a big fish and came to the table to share it with me.
She was smiling and chatting about our plans to sing together, as though nothing bad had happened between us at all. In fact, she is so much better than she was! Amazing! It must have been so difficult to come out of the dark place that she was in. Now I have her back more than ever. And No, we are not romantically involved - this is a friendship of another kind. Thanks for your thoughts and best wishes. You can also join www.OkFriendsOk.com to make new friends. I created it for people to find friends, but also to find their true love, even though it's not a dating site. It's completely free. Oh, don't wait to take singing lessons. Seize the day! One day you will hear the incredible voice of my dear friend....yours, Richard
Reply Report challyz 2013-7-22 15:09
personal deeds!!!! i am so polite , i am chinese!

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