Wo Shi Laowai – Wo Pa Shui

This Blog was Invented in Xi'an 5,000 Years Ago

For LQ, With Thanks

Posted by MyLaowai on Thursday, February 4, 2010

Back in December I received a polite email from a Chinese reader. This reader had reposted a couple of my articles on a local forum, one which appears frequented by people in the export community, and wanted to make sure that this was okay with me (and to buy me a drink by way of thanks).

The posts in question were A Frank Exchange and How To Place An Order With A Factory.

I took a look at the forum, and it was clear that most of the commenter’s missed the point I was trying to make, and instead focused their attention on whether or not the ‘local’ characters in my posts had a high enough English level.

Now, MyLaowai is not beyond being constructive at times, so I wrote a long reply myself, on the Frank Exchange post. However, that forum is the single most confusing website I have ever seen – it took me ages to work out how to sign up and I’ll be damned if I could figure out how to post a comment even then.

So now it’s here, instead. This post is directed towards Chinese businesspeople in general, and those who are dealing with foreigners in particular. Please be aware that this is supposed to be read in English, as I cannot be certain of the quality of my Chinese. I apologise in advance for any errors.

Enjoy…

Hello Forum,

I am the original author of “A Frank Exchange”. I have been reading your comments with interest, and there are a few things I would like to say.
我是”A Frank Exchange”的作者。我读了你们的评论,想发表我的一些看法。

First of all, the article is intended as parody, i.e. a humorous version of a true thing. Although the email exchanges did not actually take place, they are based on true events, and those events occur every day to me, to all of my business friends and colleagues in China, and to pretty much every person doing business in China, regardless of the language used.

首先,这篇文章是模仿题材,是真实事件的幽默版本。虽然,那些邮件交流并不是真的,但也是依据日常发生在我身上的事实,发生在我的商业伙伴和同事身上,和其他在中国的商人身上,不管使用的语言是什么。

Secondly, and more importantly, I notice that many of you focus on the issue of whether or not the Chinese company employee has a high enough English level. Of course, any company wishing to do international business, or who wishes to sell their products outside of their local market, must have someone who is reasonably fluent in the language of the customer. I assume that you all understand the words in the article, which means that your English level is quite sufficient for most non-technical communications in English. That said, however, the problems illustrated in my article are not related to an insufficient grasp of English – they are much more serious:

其次,更重要的是,我注意到许多的评论都专注中国的雇员们是否使用流利的英语。当然,任何想做国际贸易的公司都会雇佣能较流利使用客户母语的员工。 我相信你们都能理解这篇文章,说明大家的非科技英语水平还是不错的。但是,我文章中提到的问题并不和英语的好坏有直接关系—更严重的问题是:

- The company employee does not read the emails from the customer. S/he makes an assumption based on the first few words, and does not take the time to read the remainder properly. You cannot answer a question or solve a problem until you know and understand what it is that the other person is saying, and for that you need to read / listen fully and completely. If you don’t understand something, you must say so directly and then ask questions relating to the part you don’t understand.

这些公司的员工没有仔细阅读客户的邮件。他们只看到一开头的几个单词,就以为知道客户的要求,没有花时间看完客户的邮件。如果你不知道他人的意思,你不可能回答或解决对方的问题。你只能仔细阅读或倾听别人的想法。如果你不懂其中的意思,你应该直接寻求对方的解释。

- The company employee does not answer any of the customer’s questions at first, and does not provide information in a clear and concise way. Attachments that are huge, in strange formats, and that contain out of date or incorrect information will only make a customer angry. Be organised with your information.

这些公司的员工们没有首先回答客户的问题,也没有给出简明的信息。常常发给客户很大的附件,里面的数据是过时的或错误的,这就使客户光火。请好好组织一下产品信息。

- If the customer needs to know something, then he needs to know it. Telling him “don’t worry about it” is probably the worst thing you can do, unless you tell him exactly why he doesn’t need to worry about it. Vague reassurances only serve to worry people more than ever, and create mistrust. Giving your customers honest, timely, direct and complete information (whether or not they ask all the questions), will lead to more, better, happier customers every time.

告诉客户想知道的信息,只是告诉对方“请勿担心“是最糟糕的方式,除非你能告诉他不需要担心的具体理由。模糊的安慰词语只会让他人更担心,并造成不信任感。给客户诚实,及时,直接和完整的信息(不管他们是否问到这个问题没有),会使你拥有更多对你满意的客户。

- The company’s employees do not share any information with each other (or with the company!). We all know the reasons for this, but the simple fact is that without trust, no family / company / society / country can truly make progress. Social development is a by-product of trust – without trust, there can be no meaningful relationships and no worthwhile future. It all starts with trust, and although there are times when that trust is abused, it should not stop you trusting again.

公司的员工内部没有共享信息(或和公司共享)。原因是不明而喻的,但是如果没有信任,任何家庭/公司/社会/国家都不能有真正的发展。社会的进步是信任的产品,缺乏信任,将没有有意义的关系和有价值的未来。虽然,有时候信任被滥用,但是也不能因此而停止你对他人的信任。

I know these things because I am a customer, as well as a supplier. I have been in business for many, many years (and in quite a few countries), so I know what I am talking about. The problems described here and in my article are all extremely common in China, but I do also appreciate that some people (such as yourselves) would like to improve the situation. Please take what I have said as constructive criticism; that is the way it is intended. After all, if you improve your skills, then my job gets easier too.

我知道这些事情是因为我是一个客户,也是一个供应商。我从事商业工作很多年,在不同的国家中,所以我知道自己在说什么。这篇文章里谈到问题在中国都非常普遍,但我对有些朋友(比如说你们)想改变现状的愿望表示感谢。请把我说的事情看作是积极的批评,这也是我的初衷。毕竟,如果你们能提高做生意的技巧,我的工作也会方便一些。

Thank you, and may you enjoy a wonderful New Year.

谢谢大家,希望你们都有一个美妙的新年!

MyLaowai.

About these ads

3 Responses to “For LQ, With Thanks”

  1. Some day, Shanghai will run this kind of website in your memory.

  2. LQ said

    After being out of China…I could leave comments on your blog!
    Thank you being so kind and being a true friend of Chinese, though sometimes you have lovely silly complains;)
    4 years has been passed, time flies! I give my best wishes!

    LQ

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 49 other followers

%d bloggers like this: