Going Dutch in Beijing: How to Behave Properly When Far Away From Home
Reviewed by Deborah Plunkett
Organized by day-to-day topics, such as ways of greeting people, gestures, doing business, dining rituals, gift giving and holidays, it takes a humorous look at a serious subject. One culture’s gross out, is another’s accepted behavior. And just because cultures may share the same language, doesn’t mean the words have the same significance, often times they can mean just the opposite. So, watch those words – and for that matter, your digits – the thumbs up sign that Westerners regard as positive just happens to be an insult to an Iranian.
McCrum offers a very informative book and provides small doses of history and etymology as background to help us understand where and how traditions arose, and in a small way, give us insight into those cultures. Although this book may have been intended for travelers, designers can take heed on how to avoid inadvertently insulting or confusing your audience.
Before you pack up for vacation or delve into a cross-cultural design project, it would be worth your time to read, Going Dutch in Beijing*. It could just save you from a red face or a cold shoulder.
*And by the way, if you’re on your way to China, don’t offer to “go Dutch” to your host in Beijing – it would be an insult to do so.
Mark McCrum lives in London and has visited six of the seven continents. He’s written several travel books including Happy Sad Land about his journey through South Africa and Botswana in the last year of apartheid, and No Worries about his travels around Australia, where he met Sydney socialites, Republican cattle-ranchers, Indo-Chinese immigrants, Perth millionaires and desert Aboriginals, amongst others; he also has written for TV, including the program, 1900 House. For more information, please visit http://markmccrum.com