08 February 2014

Tan Cheng Bock “uninvited” from LNY party - A Case Study of East vs West Mindsets

The "Uninvited" Chinese New Year Party Incidence is a good case for understanding the East and West Mindsets. The incidence is described in Channel Newsasia Report .

The comparison between East (at least Chinese) and West is in the East West Fusion Mindset as a Key and as Simple as ABC. Note point 5 of the slide.

The Eastern Chinese Mindset is in  The Essence of Sinology or Chinese Mindset - The Values & Methods for 21st Century take note of point 5 of the mindmap.

The Eastern mindset, especially for the Chinese, goes by 情 (relationship, giving face), then 理 reasons/rationale, then 法 laws.

Whereas, the Western mindset goes in the opposite, first 法 laws, then 理 reasons/rationale, then 情 (relationship, giving face).

For the Chinese mindset, giving face and maintaining good relationship are more important than being right. Hence, so what if there be any errors, let's keep the relationship first and give others the face and respect. Once we have the relationship and trust, talking reasons will be more easily accepted. For the person with the Chinese Mindset, he will ignore the mistakes (outdated invitation list) and not make any corrections at all. i.e. no such 'uninvited' apology. Correction comes later, even if a 2nd party is needed.

Western mindset is more concern about reasons and doing the right things. Any errors must be clarified and fixed. The possible impact on relationships and giving face are not considered. So apologies were sent to ensure the party could be done according to the original intention.

This is not a post to judge which is better or right. This is just to show how different mindsets will handle the incidence differently. What do you think? 

How would you handle the case ? 


A European friend said she saw it as a personal relationship rather than a business issue. If it is a business issue, then the rational put it correct 'uninvited' would be needed. However, if it is a personal issue, then one should not 'uninvite'. This does not invalidate, but rather support the difference between East and West mentioned here. Chinese see business and personal relationship as one whereas the West see them as separate. For the Chinese, relationship comes first before business. For the West, business usually can come first, and then friendship may  or may not be formed. They are separate issues. Business is about rational issues.

Lim Liat (c) Feb 2014
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