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How to communicate with foreigners

Updated: 2015-06-12 13:50

The do's

Be genuine

If you want to become friends with anyone, not just foreigners, the first port of call is to be genuinely interested in the person. Be interested in their life, their hobbies, what they do. It also helps to have something in common.

Learn something about their culture

If you have met someone from a new country that you maybe don't know much about, research it. A quick search on Wikipedia will tell you all that you need to know about the country. Don't assume anything you see in movies is true, not all British people are posh gentleman/ladylike. Actually our culture is a far-cry from that which you see on the TV. People from the African countries don't all live in the desert in mud huts; again many of the countries in Africa are becoming more developed.

Tell them something about your culture

Now this is maybe a more personal issue, but I love learning about Chinese culture. If you can tell me some of the stories of your country, or explain some things to me, I will be so happy to listen. One example would be diaoyu islands. I asked someone why they were Chinese and my Chinese friend replied "because they just are". Rather than giving such a simple answer, understand your own history, tell me instead that diaoyu islands are China's because the US and Japan signed a treaty about the islands without China being present therefore making the treaty illegal in the first place. If you tell me it like this I will be interested more in China, and in your own knowledge.

I love this country and its people and I understand there are some cultural differences but what I have written here are some general guidelines for any situation in life where you come into contact with a foreigner. Follow these guidelines and I bet you well find it even just a little easier to make friends with a foreigner and I hope such friendship can blossom into something truly special. I know my time with my Chinese friends has been fantastic, and I hope you can all have the same joyous relationships.

As a side note, if I have offended anyone in the writing of this, no offence was meant whatsoever. It is more of a tongue-in-cheek look at some of the cultural differences that some foreigners sometimes find difficult to adapt to when coming to China. It was never intended as a lecture as to how Chinese people should act and in it's essence it is not.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and don't represent views of China Daily website.

How to communicate with foreigners

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