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February 19, 2011

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Home » Metro » Expat Community

Heard the one about foreigners' unfunny jokes?

UNFUNNY jokes and unfathomable explanations are among the communications issues that leave Chinese staff baffled in their dealings with foreign colleagues, according to a new survey.
Different communication styles topped the list of options that Chinese staff with overseas co-workers said they were most unlikely to adapt to, according to a survey by Shanghai Daily and Touchmedia.
Cultural differences, mentality and manners came next in the poll of 161,000 taxi passengers in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, investigating how Chinese people find working with foreigners.
About one third of the people taking part in the survey said they had difficulty communicating with their foreign colleagues.
Kiki Liu, a secretary with a Hong Kong-based logistics company, said she was bemused by a British colleague's jokes.
"He loved to tell jokes, but I found most of them to be not funny at all," she said. "I thought it impolite if I showed no response, so every time I just laughed stiffly."
Cecelie Cui, a customs service employee for a computer company, said an Indian colleague insisted on describing simple things in a complicated way. "He is a nice man and is sweet to everyone, but often I don't know what point he's making," said Cui.
However, most Chinese staff surveyed said they were happy to work alongside foreign colleagues, and were impressed by their creativity and execution of duties.
People believed that foreigners bring something unique to their company, and hopefully both sides can learn from each other.


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