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10 Phrases To Make Your Chinese Boss Like You

Patrick Kim | February 17, 2017 | | 3 Comments
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Learning how to use Chinese well can help you develop trust with your boss or manager by demonstrating that you are invested in Chinese culture and in working in a Chinese company. While it's not necessary to be fluent to be successful in China, knowing the right phrases and when to say them can go a long way towards developing your relationship with boss (老板 lǎobǎn), manager (经理 jīnglǐ), or "leaders" (领导 lǐngdǎo), as lower-level supervisors are sometimes called. Success in many industries in China is dependent on relationships, so do your best to make the most of contact with the senior ranking members of the company.  

Related: 7 Chinese Phrases For Business To Make You Sound Humble

"Looking Forward To Working With You"

非常期待和你一起工作 (fēicháng qídài hé nǐ yīqǐ gōngzuò)

This phrase is great for when you meet someone for the first time in a professional setting because it sets a positive and goal-oriented tone. You should start saying this phrase once you have passed the interview stage, or are beginning a new project with a new team. It is common to use some exaggeration when being polite, so words like 非常, which means "very much," are appropriate. 

"You Flatter Me"

哪里,哪里 (nǎlǐ nǎlǐ) / 差得远呢 (chà de yuǎn ne)

Chinese people are often delighted by a foreigner's ability to speak Chinese, regardless of the level. It is not uncommon for foreigners to be told, "你的中文很好" (your Chinese is very good) when introduced for the first time, even if they have only spoken a few words of Chinese. It is then appropriate to say something modest like, "哪里,哪里," which literally means "where, where." This phrase suggests that you do not know where the person with such characteristics. It can also express slight amusement at an excessively generous compliment. You can also use 差得远呢 (chà de yuǎn ne) if you are complimented on your Chinese, which means, "I still have a long way to go." It suggests that you appreciate the compliment, but are looking to improve your functional Chinese abilities. 

"Great Idea!"

好主意 (hǎo zhǔyì) / 好计划 (hǎo jìhuà)

The concept of face is very important to interpersonal dynamics in the Chinese workplace. A common way to build trust with someone is to give them compliments, or agree with their viewpoints in a way that demonstrates that you see things the same way as they do. Contrary to Western culture, where reputation and prestige are largely based on an individual's accomplishments and self-confident attitude, in China, respect is determined by one's relative status to others in the organization. Face is something that is given and taken by other people, not something that is conferred upon oneself. If you form a habit of giving your positive input on what your boss has said, not only does it show your interest in the project they are talking about, but it will make it more likely they will return the favor by giving you their endorsement or recommendations in the future.  

"Yes I will" 

我马上去做 (wǒ mǎshàng qù zuò) / 我开始工作吧 (wǒ kāishǐ gōngzuò ba)

This phrase is great to say after a meeting with your manager in which you just discussed what you will be doing next. Especially in tech companies, Chinese companies tend to like to move fast, and value the timing of execution very highly. What Chinese managers or bosses love to hear is that you will do what they want, and you will get started working very quickly. According to Business Insider, the best way to build trust with your boss is by saying, "yes, I will." That's because managers tend to look for reliable people who can be depended upon to manage the given tasks. Trust is perhaps even more important to communication in a cross-cultural business environment. Saying "no" is often taboo in Chinese culture, and you want to be in absolute agreement with your boss. Saying "我马上去做" or "我开始工作吧" is the default response you should have when your boss asks you to do something. If there are time conflicts on what you are asked to do, you should still respond with either of these phrases before asking your boss how they would like you to prioritize the other tasks you still have. This lets them know you are being proactive about the work, while also informing them of issues that might concern you. 

"Excuse Me, Can I Interrupt You For A Moment?"

不好意思,打扰你一下 (bù hǎoyìsi, dǎrǎo nǐ yīxià)

Everyone values their time, so it is a good idea to be unassuming when you need to take some of it. If you want to bring something up to your manager, this phrase can help you bring up the subject. Alternatively, you can also say, "可以占用你几分钟的时间吗" (kěyǐ zhànyòng nǐ jǐ fēnzhōng de shíjiān ma?), which means, "can I have take up a few minutes of your time?" Your manager will appreciate that you are acknowledging that their time is precious to them. 

"Sorry I Am Late" 

很抱歉我迟到了 (hěn bàoqiàn wǒ chídàole)

Being on time is considered an important part of etiquette in China, so it is always a good idea to be in the office before your manager. However, if you are late (迟到 chídào), let your manager know why you are, and apologize to them through their preferred method of communication, whether that be over email, WeChat, or in person. 

"Sorry For The Late Reply"

这么久才回复你的电子邮件,请接收我的歉意 (zhème jiǔ cái huífù nǐ de diànzǐ yóujiàn, qǐng jiēshōu wǒ de qiànyì)

If you receive an email (电子邮件 diànzǐyóujiànfrom a higher-up, but for whatever reason miss it, start your reply (回复 huífù) by apologizing for the late reply. This phrase is more formal in tone, but if you are communicating by email, it may be appropriate to use it. 

"The Bottom Line For You Is..."

底线是。。。(dǐxiàn shì)

When you communicate to your manager, you want them to know how your work is helping them reach their bottom line (底线 dǐxiàn). It is best to be direct about your contribution, and to make it very clear how you are helping them solve their problems. Use data to explain how you arrived at your conclusions, and then explain what that means for them. 

"Give Something A Try"

看一下 (kàn yīxià) / 问一下 (wèn yīxià) / 试一下 (shì yīxià)

Coming after the verb, 一下 emphasizes the brevity of the action. If you are in a meeting with your boss, and your boss asks for some information which you do not have on hand, you can say you will "看一下" to let them know that you will look into it as soon as possible. If you have a question, "问一下" is a good way of lightly raising the point you want to bring up. Also “试一下,” which means "to give something a try," is a good way of bringing up a suggested course of action during a meeting.  

"Really, I'm Not Being Polite" 

真的,我一点都不客气了 (zhēn de, wǒ yīdiǎn dōu bù kèqìle)

Wining and dining is a significant aspect of Chinese business culture, whether it has to do with developing relationships with clients, or spending a night out at KTV for teambuilding. It is custom for the most senior member present to show respect to their guests by making sure they have plenty of food on their plate and by consistently toasting them during the occasion, probably with baijiu. In Chinese culture, it is common to refuse something that is offered to you out of politeness, and to only accept it on the third time of asking. However, if you really have had enough to eat or don't want to drink anymore, it is useful to be able to say, "真的,我一点都不客气了" because otherwise your boss or host may persist in asking you. 

Related: 5 Tips About Chinese Drinking Culture

 

 

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Patrick Kim

Patrick Kim

Patrick Kim is an editor at TutorMing. He has a B.A. in East Asian Studies from UCSB, and has worked in China for 3 years. His hobbies are soccer, being outdoors, and studying Chinese.

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