First time going to China and you don’t want to offend someone by accident? Here are some easy tips to help you get along with everyone. Let’s go through some of the things that could go wrong just during dinner.
First, let’s talk about eating. The worst thing you could ever do while eating (apart from having no table manners whatsoever) would be using your own chopsticks to serve other people food. It’s quite unhygienic and impolite to serve someone food with your dirty chopsticks. Nevertheless, don’t let the fear of messing this up stop you from serving food for others! It’s seen as a sign of respect for the other party when you serve them food, so they will certainly appreciate it if you use the right pair of chopsticks.
Chinese people love to drink. Have you seen TV shows depicting Chinese people roaring with drunken laughter? That’s not a made up stereotype. Although not all dinners end with everyone being drunk, it’s quite common for Chinese people to go “bottoms up”, which is also known as 干杯（Gānbēi) — the equivalent to “cheers”. If you don’t go “bottoms up”, Chinese people might start making jokes about your masculinity.
Lastly, it’s inevitable that you’ll make small talk with people during dinner. Since this is just casual chatter, people might make mistakes about relatively trivial things like other people’s birthdays. However, you should never make a big deal of pointing out someone’s mistakes for the sake of their “face” or 面子 (Miànzi), which refers to one’s pride. Any time you point out a Chinese person’s mistake, you put them under the spotlight and cause them to lose face. Even if you were trying to make a joke, just avoid doing so especially if you’ve just met someone
Now that you’ve finished reading this guide, go buddy-buddy with your Chinese friends!
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