Friday, July 12, 2013

Are the Chinese loud?

why are the Chinese so loud
For first timers in China, the experience of a business lunch will always be memorable. Not only will they be overwhelmed by the variety of foods at the restaurant, their every sense will be bombarded by the noise usually at ear-splitting decibels.

“What is everyone arguing about in that restaurant?” my Australian business colleague asked me one day after lunch. It was his first trip to China and his first business lunch in Guangzhou.

He did not know that the Chinese has a high cultural noise threshold.

Yes, there is indeed such a term as cultural noise threshold (CNT). It is the level of decibel beyond which it becomes socially unacceptable during a conversation.

Generally most would think that Asians have a higher CNT than the west. If one Googled “LOUD TOURIST” you will find most hits on the first page would refer to the rude loud-talking Chinese tourists. So why are the Chinese so loud from the West’s perspective? Is it cultural or simply a result of 1.3 billion people trying to talk to each other?

This has always puzzled me until now.

Realising that high CNT affects the image of the country internationally; a State Department joined forces with the country’s tourism industry planned an image makeover. The result was a ‘World’s Citizen Guide” booklet published recently (see link below) for citizens travelling overseas. The guide espoused the values of lowering one's volume when talking and further suggested; do not boast, do not lecture, act small, do not be didactic…..

Wait a minute; is this guide appropriate for China?

I forgot to mention this was created by the State Department in Washington in the USA.

Yes - this guide was for Americans travelling overseas.

On the second page of the Google search “LOUD TOURISTS” – Americans, Africans, Arabs, Spanish, Italians and Brazilians are also listed. Together with Asians, this group comprises 70% of the world's population.

Perhaps we have got the CNT wrong after all. If we used it as a measurement of softness then for those talking below the CNT would be considered rude and uncivilised as they do not speak up enough for majority of the people in the world to hear them.

Now I got the answer – the Chinese are not loud – it is the others who are soft. How rude of them.

“Stop mumbling..…..Please speak up!”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Certainly a very interesting perspective, one that I have never considered.