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Do the Chinese need to be more assertive?

Popularity 8Viewed 5092 times 2015-3-22 07:07 |Personal category:Quote Me|System category:Life| Chinese, need, more, assertive


It has been my observation that in life and in discussions or debates Westerners have a good mix of attitudes. Even here on CD I find there is a good variety of Westerners in the way they conduct themselves - some are quiet and rarely get into an argument or confrontation, some are quiet and confident and will firmly stand by their view no matter how the others act, some are assertive and proactive and some are aggressive.

Most will take the initiative in starting a thread, or putting forth an idea or proposition. If the forum is a Western owned one, many will make use of the 'home turf' advantage to remind 'outsiders' to conduct themselves according to rules of the 'guest'. On foreign owned forums, they will demand rights and privileges as a matter of right (even if they really do not get such on their own home grounds). Never mind the size of their country or population, they are not intimidated or cowed. 
They are free in expressing themselves. They are mostly assertive when needed. Not all will feel the need to be assertive, if someone else is doing it on their behalf and not getting enough support, even the quiet ones will step up and speak up. Note that being assertive is different from being aggressive. One can be very polite, firm and quietly assertive.

In the west, when someone is not following the rules, standing in line or creating an unpleasant atmosphere or bullying someone people will speak up, even the quiet ones will step in and support anyone who takes a stand. They will all make a open show of support and numbers. I have had some Western people stepping in to support me, in my earlier days on CD, when they felt I was being unfairly set upon! This is an admirable quality found in the West.

As in general life, I observe that there is not such a good mix with Asians, particularly the Chinese, in the way they respond. This can also be seen on CD. Many (a large majority it seems from the numbers of viewers) are quiet, read and move on, without putting any response. 

It is perhaps understandable that many see the petty bickerings, name-calling, characterisations and bullying and may not want to have anything to do with it. Some do stick by their country or society and stand up for them with a fierce dedication. Mostly, I find they are slow, reluctant, but will step up to push back after a certain point if they feel they are being bashed unfairly.  Some of course are clearly upset and go overboard in reacting. Western people respond to many such issues in a flash, early on and nip the thing in the bud. They realise that sometimes, one cannot avoid uncomfortable confrontation and things have to be dealt with head-on. It is perhaps dirty work, but someone has to do it or those that do it have to be supported.

That is how it is in the West. They create and maintain an atmosphere that they desire by being proactive and assertive. It is essential to understand this in dealing with western conditioned people. They easily respond to such a controlled atmosphere, where the expectations and limitations are spelled out or made clear early on. Otherwise, there is a tendency to use different standards of behaviour in dealing with 'others'. Many of the more arrogant people (Asians included) have expectations that are in some measure valid, that Asians places and forums are not well managed or controlled and hence they can get away with more than they would otherwise.

Yes, we know there are all kinds of people all over the world, but do you think that most Chinese (statistically speaking of course!) are not assertive?

Do you think they need to be more proactive, take the initiative, respond early, respond more clearly in showing their support for those who defend their views?

Do you think the Chinese need to be more assertive?

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


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Reply Report SEARU 2015-3-22 10:06
I appreciate anyone who is assertive in the public since his (or her) words are useful for our wisdom! And you are among them!
Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2015-3-22 12:38
I think with visits to blogging Forum, in many Western minds it is: read, comment or move on. With some of my Asian friends, I get  messages like. Saw Your post, I'll read it more next week. Often next week gets too busy. It is easier to respond to blogs if one has something that comes into mind immediately that can be a quick, yet relevant, response. Maybe in Chinese culture there is a need to think a lot first and be careful about replies. Maybe some words are not immediately understood and need to be checked for translation,  maybe there is less spontaneous response as a cultural aspect? Or is it simply confidence?
Reply Report KIyer 2015-3-22 13:21
ColinSpeakman: I think with visits to blogging Forum, in many Western minds it is: read, comment or move on. With some of my Asian friends, I get  messages like. Saw ...
Good points Colin!
Reply Report Dr.Bill.Shen 2015-3-22 14:16
A good observation. Chinese certainly should be more assertive. however in general it seems that being assertive has never been encouraged in chinese culture and history. People tend to keep their own counsel. As my mother always says to me: "the more you talk, the closer to your misery". Of course, my parents suffered a lot during the culture revolution like millions of other chinese families. Just some historical perspective why Chinese are less assertive. I have to say it has changed a lot nowadays.

another important factor is the language itself. many people are afraid of becoming a target of ridicule, before they can make their points across. Fighting an up-hill batt;le has never been easy.
Reply Report TedM 2015-3-23 09:37
Being assertive, showing initiative and sharing is not, and has not been, encouraged here for a long time. Statements I have heard include ;
Don't get involved,  Don't show that you are very good at something,   Don't stick your head above the parapet,  The boss will be angry if you are wrong,    We can do nothing,     We have no time,    Only do your job,    Wait for the boss to tell you what to do.
Yet, when bartering and when behind the wheel of a car, Chinese people are assertive to the point of arrogant and selfish rudeness ???? Strange.       I hope no-one reads this because it might be wrong, or if I am right, then someone might read it and then someone will gossip about me!
Reply Report seanboyce88 2015-3-23 10:11
good blog and I find in day to day life this would be better. However, one thing they need to change is their aggressive defence of their country. Anytime you offer constructive criticism you are more often than not faced with a wall as you have pointed a flaw in China. An example, I posted on my wechat how stupid my Chinese book was. It asserted that all Americans were liars and all Chinese honest. I said this should be changed as if it is embedded in the education then the Chinese may go on to make generalisations of countries, including their own. I pointed out some were liars, others honest. True of every country. I pointed out that even culture in China is diverse, harbin and guangzhou culture are very different. However, I got the typical "westerner coming here telling us how to learn" reply. I think they should learn to either accept criticism and learn to construct an argument if they disagree rather than saying "it's just like this 就是这样.

Recently Britain took on board many aspects of Chinese education (math in particular) as it is deemed better. Now, why can't many Chinese people accept that some aspects of other countries are always better? China is not the best at everything, no country is.
Reply Report voice_cd 2015-3-23 10:16
Thanks for sharing your opinion here. We have highlighted your blog.
Reply Report KIyer 2015-3-23 10:18
seanboyce88: good blog and I find in day to day life this would be better. However, one thing they need to change is their aggressive defence of their country. Any ...
Sean being offensively defensive about one's country is a bit different from what my OP is about. I find aggressive defensiveness everywhere,  even in the West.  My post is about being assertive in a situation that demands someone to step up and speak up. It could be someone cutting in a line,  being offensive,  loud or abusive or even walking over someone timid in an argument. Or it could be someone simply needing to assert their rights. Many people don't for fear of confrontation.
Reply Report KIyer 2015-3-23 13:35
TedM: Being assertive, showing initiative and sharing is not, and has not been, encouraged here for a long time. Statements I have heard include ;
Don't get ...
I absolutely can relate to the aggressive and offensive nature behind the steering wheel  of some otherwise timid quiet people. Such are found in smaller proportion in the west. Indian roads have too many of such maniacs who are lambs in the office and wolves behind the wheels. I can understand that it might be a big problem in China.
The issue is whether the Chinese are assertive where there is a need to be and where it is good to be so.
Reply Report MichaelM 2015-3-24 07:36
seanboyce88: good blog and I find in day to day life this would be better. However, one thing they need to change is their aggressive defence of their country. Any ...
Great point. Generalizations show a lack of thoughtful intelligence. Not wise and certainly not smart.
Reply Report seanboyce88 2015-3-24 09:02
KIyer: Sean being offensively defensive about one's country is a bit different from what my OP is about. I find aggressive defensiveness everywhere,  even in ...
Sorry, it was just this line here that led me to this tangential sidetrack:

"Some do stick by their country or society and stand up for them with a fierce dedication. Mostly, I find they are slow, reluctant, but will step up to push back after a certain point if they feel they are being bashed unfairly.  Some of course are clearly upset and go overboard in reacting."

because it happened yesterday.

As for your questions at the end then to get back on topic.

I never generalise by saying all Chinese, but a lot of Chinese I meet are never assertive. It's either aggressive or utterly passive. There are some assertive ones but not so many I find. (Searu is an example of one)

As for showing their support, I wish more people would do that. At least the majority of the Chinese on here don't make stupid rude remarks. But at the same time, their voice is often silent. (Doesn't help by the number of grammar nazi's who take it upon themselves to criticise EVERYTHING).
Reply Report KIyer 2015-3-24 09:10
seanboyce88: Sorry, it was just this line here that led me to this tangential sidetrack:

"Some do stick by their country or society and stand up for them wit ...
Sean: 'I never generalise by saying all Chinese, but a lot of Chinese I meet are never assertive. It's either aggressive or utterly passive.'

Of course, I understand Sean! You don't generalize and you should not have to qualify it every single time. We can see what you mean. There are certain times we need to make clear, just to be on the safe side, but yes, there are trends and majority that we all observe. As long as the statement is not used mischievously or deliberately to characterize everyone, it is fine. Thanks for your comments!
Reply Report Newtown 2015-3-24 13:54
MichaelM: A great blog and interesting question. I don't read much of the forum here, but I have observed this in just every day life. There is a certain non-ag ...
Thanks for the resume details about your spectacular rise to wealth, power and material possessions. As you are a self-proclaimed "westerner" these accomplishments must vastly impress all of the low-achieving and unambitious "easterners" in countries such as China.

I only wonder how it is that China has been able to produce a considerable number of millionaires ( and biliionaires for that matter ) who have clearly achieved great business success ? How have so many "little boys" managed to do this especially as they are apparently  too timid and unmanly to have wives and girlfriends ?

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