Cultural Musings: The One No

No matter how you dress it up, make excuses for it or explain the whys of it – you will encounter some people who are unbelievably rude and stupid.

Any expat, anywhere, will always have ups and downs when experiencing life in a different culture. The downs are things like people pushing you, rushing you, not giving you a millimeter personal space, and generally lacking respect for you, their fellow human being, lacking respect for the Earth and cleanliness, and lacking respect for anything good in the world, like manners and politeness.

How to deal with such people? Well, take a leaf out of the local book of rule-making. Chinese people love sets of things: the ‘three nos’, the ‘five laws’, the ‘seven examples’ and so on.

So here’s your rule for surviving life in a place in which it’s perfectly normal to be very rude: The One No. That no is: No Interaction.

Let’s say you are driving your car and someone purposefully does something unbelievably rude and stupid to you. Is it ever going to be worth getting into a little car or road ‘battle’ with such a savage?

Let’s say you are playing football and the local referee makes a terrible decision, and you moan about it. So next time, for no reason, he will try to penalize you for doing nothing wrong. Is it worth getting into an unpleasant and aggressive shouting match? No. why? Because he will enjoy it.

You may find that you are having a problem with a colleague. Your Western brain may try to tell you to outsmart, outmatch, or even outstupid the other person in order to ‘win’ what you want to.

That is not going to work here. Even if you think that you are responding with something negative that the other person will not enjoy – they can actually still enjoy it.

Yes, some people enjoy interaction OF ANY KIND.

You know when you see that two cars have very slightly bumped into each other? And then the drivers’ response is to leave the cars exactly where they are – no matter that it is inconveniencing literally 1,000s of people behind them?

It’s because they love ‘doing something’. It matters not what that something is, but in their otherwise restricted life, they now have a ‘thing’ that’s specifically happening ‘to them’.

So bear this in mind if you are ever faced with a problem. Going about it logically would actually be out of place. But you will never be able to match the level of illogic also.

Therefore, the best option is ceasing interaction, saying and doing nothing.

That is how you ‘win’.

Saying nothing at all in any argument means you are cutting down the avenues of illogical and rude reply. It is not easy at all – but it is the high road and you have still won by restricting the other person’s ability to talk back.

Thank me later.

In a hissy fit rivaling Veruca Salt, a Chinese woman is now an international star, thanks to her performance at a Shanghai car showroom. Her anger was piqued after her companion refused to buy her a car. Naturally, the woman got into the car and proceeded to lurch the car forward and backward a few feet (screaming the entire time, of course), until her companion defeatedly waved a credit card at the salesman.


Categories: Expat Life


Foreigner in Shanghai


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2 Comments on “Cultural Musings: The One No”

  1. December 4, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    Some great advice you have here. I try to live by “The One No” but sometimes I can’t help but loosing a curse when I’m almost run over by the savage on wheels runing a red light. The elbows also can’t help themselves sometimes from protecting my body when it’s being attacked by the masses who don’t understand you should wait for others to get off the subway car before rushing on. I’ll try harder! But damn is it hard to be all Zen about things.

    • December 5, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

      It is difficult but that’s why I use the word ‘win’. Because that’s what to hold to in such difficult moments. Even though it can’t ever make ‘sense’ to us, it truly will be a win if you leave the situation and the aggressor has not had a chance to shout random shite.

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