David Livermore has a helpful post on how to navigate giving
culturally intelligent compliments.
I think many of us assume or take for granted how compliments and
feedback are received in different cultures. The next time you want to offer
some feedback, ask yourself the following questions:
- What’s the nature of your relationship? (e.g.
your history together, your roles within the organization, etc.)
- Should the compliment be
directed to the individual or to a group? (if this is a “typical” Chinese
person, a compliment directed more toward the person’s ‘in- group’ would likely
be better received than just directing it toward the individual).
- How explicit should the
compliment be? (again, if this individual fits Chinese norms, an indirect
approach will likely be better).
- What are you affirming?
(character, performance, reputation, etc.)
- What is the ideal context for
sharing the compliment? (private vs. public, written vs. verbal, etc.)
- Do the cultural norms for
compliments apply to this individual? (Don’t assume that all things said about
Chinese preferences apply to this individual. You have to get to know him/her
as a person.)
Darren Carlson is the Founder and President of Training Leaders International. As President, Darren oversees the general direction of the ministry and serves as an advocate for pastors with little access to formal training and thoughtful cross-cultural theological engagement. You can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.