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Originally from Seattle, USA, I've lived in China for 27 years now, 22 of them in Taiwan. For those 27 years I have been teaching English to Chinese people of all age levels; kindergarten, primary school, junior high, high school, College, University and many business managers. I have traveled to many countries, enjoy cycling very much, enjoy reading and studying and love Chinese Art Museums and walking through Nature. My favorite musical instruments are 古筝。。 古琴 。。 琵琶。。 二胡 。。 笛子 。。 (guzheng, guqin, pipa, erhu, dizi).
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Perception, Compromise, Respect -- Compromise    

By WarmLife
890 Views | 5 Comments | 11/18/2018 12:54:37 PM


For many people this word is not likeable.  Many people consider it undesirable as well.  There are those who think it means giving up too much in order to allow another person to have more or do more or control more .

From online dictionary :

accommodation, concession, give-and-take, negotiation

haggle, horse trade, accord, arrangement, bargain, concurrence, consensus, deal, understanding, agreement, settlement, mediation, treaty

From these synonyms it should be noticeable that there is a lot of latitude for abuse or gaining more benefits within the typical social transactions that take place everywhere .

A compromise is a situation in which people accept something slightly different from what they really want, because of circumstances or because they are considering the wishes of other people. Encourage your child to reach a compromise between what he wants and what you want.....

an accommodation in which both sides make concessions


I recall a situation between an English speaking expat and a Taiwanese professor.  They would often get together during the week on an evening with other families.  During one of the meetings both of them had different opinions and views concerning an issue that was being discussed that evening.  The expat then smiled and told the professor that they could compromise with each other.  The expat told the professor that he would be happy to compromise his stance with him in order to keep their friendship and fellowship healthy.  However, the professor smiled and told the expat, " Nice behavior, thank you."  Then he smiled again and said, " You do know that compromise in Chinese means that you will yield and follow my view -- meaning to give up your position and to accept mine."  The expat also smiled and said, " Oh, but in my Western perspective -- to compromise means that both of us should try to find a middle way,  to give-and-take, to reach an agreement which does not necessarily mean 50/50 either. "  Unfortunately, there could not be any compromise between them due to their perception of what the meaning of compromise meant within this social situation.   (for chinese readers -- as with expats -- there are many other chinese people who might have a different view of how compromise will unfold in any given social interaction )

There is another example .  An expat was really interested in establishing a relationship with a Chinese gal.  Due to his exposure of living with Chinese people he decided he would be really careful in how he handled various social situations with her.  Thus, whenever they went shopping together in a large supermarket he would sometimes carry the basket or let her take it depending on her behavior.  She would ask him politely, "What would you like to buy?"  He quickly responded that he had already bought enough items earlier in the day or yesterday .  He did this because he recalled having conversations with her about shopping and what she would like to buy.  He remembered that when he told her what he might buy -- she would sometimes tell him that this or that was not healthy or expensive or ... or ...  or ...   Thus, he would tag along with her and ask questions -- how do you know which vegetable or fruit is suitable, ripe, delicious and so on.  One day, one of his friends saw him with her .  His friend noticed that he was not buying anything and was only interested in helping the girl to buy things.  When she went to look at the fish area his friend asked him -- Why aren't you buying anything ?  He quickly and quitely told his friend that he did not wish to have her tell him that this or that was too cold or hot ( within TCM concepts), or that what he wanted to buy had too much sugar in it or was considered junk food or unhealthy.  


During the weekend when he could meet her or at times during the week for dinner he would ask her where she would like to dine.  "Where would you like to eat?"  "Sui bian... "  "How about .... ?"  "(insert sound of incorrect buzzer from TV shows ...)  "Where would you like to have dinner?"  "Sui bian... "  ( this would continue as they walked along Golden Street where there were many choices ....  

At other times an expat would get together to dine with his Chinese close friend who would bring his daughter with him (because the daughter's mother (Chinese) had zero interest in getting together with the expat.  They would meet and greet each other happily especially when his mother-in-law from Chengdu arrived upon the scene.  Re-enactment of 'boot camp commander" each time .  Lol. After several times the expat would smile and suggest that they eat at "that" Noodle shop .  Simply because his daughter's preference was stuck in a proverbial broken record player skipping again and again to the same place.  Which created a lot of -- si ceng xiang shi --  ji shi gan --- deja vu .   Especially since the Chinese gal mentioned above also enjoyed eating at "that" Noodle restauarant.


A fascinating marital phenomena also occurred frequently within the expat's Chinese family of three.  Whenever his mother would show up to take care of his daughter the experience was similar to a weekend trip during a soothing sailboat ride over the blue waters of the lake nestled within the mountains.  In contrast though, whenever the mother in law showed up the experience was akin to having multiple gale force thunderstorms raging throughout the apartment community where they lived .  Like the barking sergeant shouting out orders and commands from a semi-automatic weapon the husband would quickly "exit stage left"  in order to seek whatever sanity remained within his psyche.  There were inklings that his wife would stubbornly refuse to agree with anything he said during the mother in law's tri monthly visits.  It certainly was not a case of --- make yourself feel at home -- it was definitely -- make damn sure this becomes your home for the duration of the visit.  The handwriting was also on the wall --- should there ever come a time when the marital quarrel would reach a Cat 4 hurricane level the wife would not hesitate to cling to her mother and move back to her hometown.  ( note -- dearest chinese readers --  I might as well let you know that many? most? expats feel truly annoyed with my so called Pro China stance -- Recall being called various perjorative terms as well -- Lol ---  Thus whatever I happen to write definitely does not follow the inane China bashing takes often takes place here .  )


And now for something completely different -- cue Monty Python music --   I already knew what to expect when I moved from that roc(k) (how many get the pun?  probably a cold joke -- you had to be there --  Lol ) .  There is an island not too far from Xiamen which is approx. 440 km in length.  To give more insight -- during the CNY it takes approx. 12 + hours of edging along within a moving parking lot to travel from the northern port of Keelung to the southern pseudo beach of Kenting.  During the year of the Asia games in 2010 the internet speed was incredibly fast -- three broadband connections with no "wall" (which totally makes expats and probably others as well -- feel qi chong niu dou ( no tones added to make it more fun trying to decipher the pinyin  -- tao yan )   Therefore, I decided to exert enough psychological effort as well as dealing with much cognitive dissonance to "adjust " myself in preparation to moving to the mainland.  This took place over approx. one year .  Thus when I made the jump from the roc(k) to the mainland seeking various job opportunities (via scandalous job agents gleefully trying to pretend they were "honest, reputable" snarks and snakes and wolves in sheep's clothing) I finally survived several scams and con artist schemes.  I also survived using the local internet connection speeds with dismal bandwith connections.  I did not suffer severe cognitive dissonance nor experience the anguish of "withdrawal" that seems to premeate (mi man) many others who had no such pre-planning tactics to escape such a traumatic experience due to the abysmal internet connection or the wall ... (cue the movie music of the classic film Jaws )    By the way I have not use vpn for 7 years here as well.  Which causes both local as well as expats to view me as a willing candidate for Sedro Wooley (which is a city in the state of Wa. -- there used to be a Mental Hospital there  Lol)  Or maybe they perceive me as wishing to be the character in movie The Truman Show.  There are reasons and the answer is "Not Out There"  Nor is Google my friend either.  Thus I surely compromised my previous Net experience for something that well ... has not been as catastrophic as many might declare it to be.   


To be continued ...


ATTN:  And Now for Something Different ....  Yes! Another Monty Python parody!  Should you, the reader, not be interested in Satire or Monty Python's style ... then wait for the "critics" who might wish to demonstrate their "criticizing"  grin grin ... 


A small set of a gate in the country overlooking a field. A real rustic in smock and floppy hat is leaning on the gate. A city gent on holiday appears behind him.

Off-screen "sheeple" noises throughout.

Cosmopolitan -- Good afternoon.

Rustic -- Afternoon.

Cosmopolitan --  A lovely day isn't it.

Rustic -- Eh, 'tis that.

Cosmopolitan --  You here on holiday or...?

Rustic -- Nope, I live 'ere.

Cosmopolitan -- Oh, jolly good too. (surveys field; he looks puzzled) I say, those are sheeple aren't they?

Rustic --  Ar.

Cosmopolitan -- Yes, yes of course, I thought so.  I was told that those who don't continually binge on Youtube vids were here. why are they up in the trees?

Rustic --  Resting.   A fair question and one that in recent months (especially from those who have noticed more sheeple have been arriving due to the Foghorn blaring about pining for the fjords) has been much on my mind. It's my considered opinion that they're suffering from a case of sleep deprivation due to incessant prodding to become addicted to perusing a narrow band of Youtube vids. Apparently some Foghorn goads them into doing "more research with an open mind while gorging themselves with Youtube vids."  Imagine the oxymoron involved in that process.  Something (such as a concept) that is made up of contradictory or incongruous elements within a very limited tunnel visioned tube.

 Cosmopolitan  ---  Resting?

Rustic     Ar.

Cosmopolitan --    Like birds but Sheepling instead of actually nesting?

Rustic     Ar. Exactly. Sheeple is the key to the whole problem. It's my belief that these sheeple are laborin' under the misapprehension that they're birds (Since birds are stressed out tremendously after having a long squawk due to overdose of Youtube vids). Observe their social behavior. Take for a start the sheeple's tendency to 'op about the field on their back legs. (off-screen baa-ing) Now witness their attempts to fly from tree to tree. Notice that they do not so much fly as...plummet while trying to show off their beautiful plummage. (sound of sheeple plummeting) Observe for example that sheeple who thinks she is a ewe in that oak tree. She is clearly trying to teach her sheeple who thinks it is a lamb to fly. (baaaaaa...thump) Talk about the resultant significant impact from listening to a Foghorn blaring about Youtube vids.  Proverbially  speaking  ---  the blind leading the blind.

Cosmopolitan---   But why do they think they're birds?

Rustic -- Another fair question. One thing is for sure; a sheeple is not a creature of the air. Foghorns have plenty of hot air that is being pumped into the atmosphere creating those dazzling wisps of cloud like designs.  They have enormous difficulty in the comparatively simple act of perchin'. (crash) As you see. As for flight, its body is totally unadapted to the problems of aviation. Trouble is, sheeple have become very dim due to the over exposure of the relentless crusade of Youtube vids promoted by Foghorns. Once they too much exposure in their heads, there's no shifting it unless they have success via withdrawal.  

Cosmopolitan -- But where did they get the idea from?

Rustic  -- From Harold. He's that sheeple there over under the elm. He's that most dangerous of animals, a clever sheeple. He decided to become the ring-leader after noticing that more and more sheeple had been traumatized. He has realized that a sheeple's life consists of standing around for a few months and then being eaten up by yet another type of Soapbox. And that's a depressing prospect for an ambitious sheeple. He's patently hit on the idea of escape.

Cosmopolitan --  Well why don't you just get rid of Harold?

Rustic  --- Because of the enormous commercial possibilities that have been achieved by Youtube vids.

Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
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#2018-11-18 12:54:12 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

In my mind, or perhaps I should say to my understanding, there are compromises between two people, or two groups of people, in which each of them accepts something less than 100% of what they wish to receive, in order to reach a settlement that gives then enough of what they wish to receive to make it worth forfeiting that which they do not receive.

There are also situations in which there is only you trying to achieve something, attain some goal or obtain something, and you may have to come to a compromise with yourself as to how much you will achieve, attain or obtain because you lack the necessary finances, skills, will, intelligence, talents, etc in order to have 100% success. 

I think you have generally set that out as well, when you wrote "A compromise is a situation in which people accept something slightly different from what they really want, because of circumstances or because they are considering the wishes of other people."

But in your first example it seems to me that the Expat was indeed trying to reach a compromise with the Professor. However, it seems to me that the Professor could only be said to be misinterpreting the meaning of 'compromise'. I say that because 'compromise' is an English word, so how can it mean something different in Chinese.

When he says "You do know that compromise in Chinese means that you will yield and follow my view -- meaning to give up your position and to accept mine." he really is describing a different English term altogether, such as, perhaps, to 'acquiesce' to his wishes.

But this does I think describe the Chinese way of resolving issues, which is to rarely compromise and much more often have the one with lesser power acquiesce to the wishes of the one with greater power.

I think in our Western relationships between husband and wife, for example, most couples do a lot of compromising. I'll give up this if you'll give up that. We constantly look for ways to each get something out of the deal, regardless of where we are or what we are settling on.

But Chinese couples have an approach more like that described by the Professor, which is not actually compromising on the specific matter at hand, but is part of a greater overall compromise based on the situation. Specifically, in my experience, the husband is likely to acquiesce when the matter at hand is taking place in the home, and the wife is likely to acquiesce when the matter at hand is taking place out of the home. The compromise is that "I will give you the power at home, you will give me the power out in public." and vice versa. That is the compromise.

I know there is more to come here, but does what I am saying fit in with your POV, or have I generalized too much based on my own personal experiences?

Either way I hope people reading your blog are getting a good understanding of differences between Chinese and Westerners. I have seen and am living through countless examples of the same ones you are presenting here, and can attest to the importance of adjusting to them in order to make your cross cultural relationships work and last. 

#2018-11-18 15:15:12 by Barry1 @Barry1



I'm so glad you've returned to CLM, Jim.


Your articles are always so chock full of real life experiences and disparate anecdotes, always presenting a wide spectrum of information.  Readers must continually be amazed at your self-evident perspicacity and lateral thinking abilities.


You most certainly deserve to have a beer on me, Jim!   (beer)





#2018-11-19 08:25:17 by WarmLifeGz7 @WarmLifeGz7


Compromise involves one's perception of his / her environment and living situation.  Therefore actual living examples will most likely involve a wide range of responses between the people involved or with the interlocutor .   The Chinese professor responded within two frames of reference -- his socio-cultural setting as well as his own interaction with  me as a foreigner.  The issue of "saving face" might be a part of this as well.   His perception was that I should acquiesce and thus agree with his opinion .  Of course, I could refuse this option and then we would just continue on until a conflict arose concerning a particular social situation.  Fortunately, there was enough latitude amongst this group of families that did not happen.  Another example could be a Father that I know who is severly addicted to Fishing --- which went way beyond the typical Sport of Fishing -- pushing the limits to an Olympic level.  He would work 8 hr shifts then go fishing in lakes, or along rivers or most often in the Straits of Juan De Fuca -- a part of the Pacific Ocean.  Even he could work a double shift and do the same often.  There was no compromise with this man .  He could fish along a big river with hundreds of fishermen --- and yet only he would catch fish.  His Father own a fishing Marina on an island that housed over 300 sports like fishing boats .  Each weekend during suitable weather nearly all of these fishing boats would take off to fish in American waters or in Canadian waters .  It was slighty amusing to observe that many of these sportsmen who really enjoyed fishing along with the diehards would be skunked ( catching no fish) or that amongst this large crowd there might only be a few dozen caught .   In his fishing boat there was a long rectangular aluminum box to hold the fish that he caught.  The fish that I see caught here are the same size as my foot or smaller .  Most People I know do not realize the strength needed to reel in a fish especially while fishing in the Ocean.   Most guys I have told this story (saga) to snicker with derision or laugh and attempt to tell me their fictitious tales about the fish that supposedly got away or caught.   However, this Father would often catch up to a dozen king salmon weighing up to 34 kg each .   Try it sometime.  How would I even know about this?  I went with him numerous times as a relative of his.  In fact ( Fox's favorite Soap Box word ) when I was 10 I had to reel a fish that weighed more than me at that time taking longer than well over an hour to do so .   Compromise?  ROFL .... He told me I had two choices ... swim or reel it in -- do I believe he would have tossed me overboard -- easily in the affirmative.   His perception was --- he is extremely determined to win this tug of war with fish in the ocean.  He turned the Sport of Fishing into a Boot Camp for Marines training in order to operate effectively and efficiently under any condition .   There are huge ferries that run from Vancouver to Victoria that create huge wakes in their path .  Imagine sitting in a sports fishing boat while the ferry churns by ---- your boat glides over these huge waves -- at the bottom of a wave you see nothing but water on both sides and on the upper part of the wave you are now at least several floor high or more ...   How about traveling over heavy waves on the return trip back home ?  The relentless thunderous pounding upon the waves -- the darkening sky which brings dusk then darkness then scary moments which turn into extended time ...  There were five passengers sitting in the front ... three crying out their eyes and the younger ones at times trying to scream over the sound of everything else .  What was I doing?  laughing ( now from memory of such )  I was sitting next to this Father and scared shitless of what he might do to me if I even dared to look like I was terrified.  Compromise?    ROFL -- within 15 minutes there was a resort marina on an island where we could have stayed and enjoyed the evening and ever took an adventure around it the next day . 

#2018-11-19 08:26:22 by WarmLifeGz7 @WarmLifeGz7


 Reef netting is only done in a few places on this Globe (grin ) in the Pacific Northwest and somewhere in Japan if memory is correct.   Two Flatt bottom boats have a heavy net suspended between them with a forward portion of the net creating an imaginary reef that schools of sockeye salmon swim up and between the boats.   The idea is to have a machine and guys use their muscles to quickly pull in the net to roll the fish over into one of these boats .   I have seen a muscular guy fall overboard while hauling the net then simultaneously pull himself back into the boat with his arms and body .   Compromise ?  the meaning for this examples is to show that at times there is no option for compromise even though there exists other possible solutions  due to the perception of the individual .  I have also seen Chinese wives say that "within the household they are the boss while their husbands are the boss outside "  that the wife has the power to make most tiny or small decisions and that the husband has the power for the larger decisions ... LOL    Or there are those males -- both Chinese or Foreigners -- that have the perception that they are always in charge due to their hierarchical status over the women and kids including dogs  ( not over cats ... the cat would most likely say ... are you kidding me ? )  Thus in this situation compromise is thought to exist in an abstract cerebral manner but how this works out is anyone's guess depending on the dynamic between the two mates .   The abstract ideal is that each should yield at least 50% or more -- which from my observation results in acquiesce --- accept something reluctantly but without protest.   I wrote another blog article that attempts to deal with in a different manner.   8)

#2018-11-19 08:30:54 by paulfox1 @paulfox1

In my experience Chinese people hate to compromise - especially in the workplace.

The see it as 'losing face'

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