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5 Things To Never Say To Foreigners

Popularity 2Viewed 5734 times 2019-7-2 16:56 |System category:Life

If you've traveled in Europe, Australia, most of Africa or America, you know that some things are quite different than China. There are taboos when it comes to conversation. Especially if you just met someone. Some subjects are off limits and should always be avoided.

Here are the top five things to never talk about with or say to Westerners.

1. Money - Do not ever ask a Westerner how much money they make. That is very offensive to a Westerner. It is considered very rude. Don't ask how much they make nor how much money they have. Anywhere outside of China, you are likely going to offend someone by asking them about money.

2. Weight - In China, it is o.k. to talk to someone about their weight. It is considered to be a sign that you care about them and their health. However, in any Western culture, it is considered extremely rude to call someone 'fat' or tell them that they need to lose weight. 

First, they already know it if they are overweight or fat. They don't want you reminding them. Second, they will feel that you are judging them by their looks, not by who they really are inside. Don't think that you can do this and explain to them that you care about them. That won't work. Just stay away from the subject of weight unless you want to make that person not like you. Third, don't start giving them advice on exercise and diet. It seems many Chinese like to give advice on such things. Don't do this with Westerners.

3. About a divorce certificate (if you're single)- I met a lady here in China who showed a romantic interest in me. The first thing she asked me, "Can you show me your divorce certificate?" I thought to myself, "You must be crazy to think that I carry my divorce certificate with me." I'd just met this person and had shown no interest in her. I said that I'm divorced; she could choose to believe me or not. I realize that some men play games with women and aren't honest about their marital status. But, I can assure you, no Westerner is going to show you their divorce certificate. It is quite likely that if you ask them such a question, you can forget about ever pursuing a relationship of trust and love with them. If you don't trust someone enough to know whether or not they are lying to you, you need to get to know them better. Don't ask a Westerner for a divorce certificate. They'll think that you're crazy.

4.  Do not think that you can start criticizing a foreigner and make them feel close to you. If you tell a foreigner things that you don't like about them, don't expect them to like you or feel close to you. It won't work. If you tell a foreigner, 'you are bad' or, 'you did something bad that I don't like', then, they will be left with the impression that you don't like them. You will drive them away and not attract them. If you tell them something like, "I only tell you this to make you a better person", then, they will think that you believe that you are superior to them. It is very rude and appears incredibly arrogant. If you feel that you must criticize others, then, don't expect them to be your friend (or lover, or husband, or wife......). We don't do that with those who we love and care about.

5. Age - At the prompting of my good friend and fellow Star Blogger, Colin Speakman, I'm adding this one to the list. I overlooked it and he brought to my attention. 

The fastest way to get a foreigner to not like you is to ask them about their age. Especially if you see them as a potential romantic/love partner. Just today, I added a lady on WeChat who had sent me a request. She said, "Hello. My name is Lucy and I'm from that website. How old are you right now?" I immediately deleted her without answering.


Did I not want to tell her? Am I ashamed of my age? (by the way, I'm 60 years old and in better shape and far wiser than when I was at 25). Did I find her question offensive? No. No. Yes. 

First, you can look at someone like me and know that I'm at least over 45 years old. So, you likely can guess their age. 

Second, asking a Westerner's age is almost as bad as asking them how much money they have. We see it as very superficial. 

If you have requirements for someone's age, you're not likely to be looking for true love. I agree that you don't want someone who you can't relate to due to the age difference, but, if you're interested enough to try to connect with them, find out their age later. If you ask me my age, I feel like I'm filling out an application for employment or applying for a visa. Also, I'll delete you. I can assure you that someone who is primarily interested in how old I am is NOT someone that I will have love for later. HA! HA! HA! Don't do this unless you are interested in making enemies and not friends.

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




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Reply Report BlondeAmber 2019-7-4 13:20
you could add the question:
"will you be my friend?"
I have been asked this almost immediately by many strangers in China.
this is something a child would grow out asking at home.
it is also quite creepy and, as you say, superficial.
Reply Report MichaelM 2019-7-4 13:43
BlondeAmber: you could add the question:
"will you be my friend?"
I have been asked this almost immediately by many strangers in China.
this is something ...
Yes. That is one that I've heard often. Another is, 'Will you teach me English?' They have no intention of learning English. I usually just say, 'O.k.'
Reply Report parcher 2019-7-7 16:15
Only the age question offends me....

recently in a hospital, a woman i have never met asked me if i was 50 yrs old. i said i was 48 then asked how old she was. She didnt answer......
Reply Report BlondeAmber 2019-7-7 22:34
asking someone's marital status immediately when meeting them has the potential for not only being offensive, but also very hurtful.
When i meet someone who is a stranger to me, i have no idea if they are married, divorced, separated, bereaved, single or in a relationship - and to be honest unless it is clearly at a 'singles' event, it is none of my business.
To demand (and yes the it does come across as a demand) to know someones marital status (and/or proof) on immediate acquaintance could stir up some painful memories, which is the last thing you should do to a stranger.
Reply Report MichaelM 2019-7-8 17:09
BlondeAmber: asking someone's marital status immediately when meeting them has the potential for not only being offensive, but also very hurtful.
When i meet someo ...
Yes. Totally agree.

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Michael is the author of the transformational book, Powerful Attitudes. He is a professional educator, an educational consultant, an author. He lives in Zhengzhou, Henan Province. He enjoys playing guitar and writing poetry. He loves China.


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