Author Topic: Appropriate thank you in Chinese culture  (Read 2593 times)

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MissKitty

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Appropriate thank you in Chinese culture
« on: September 18, 2013, 07:46:25 PM »
Hi all,

I mostly lurk here, but I learn so much just from reading that I rarely have a question.  However, I know there are some here who are of Chinese descent who may be able to help me keep from "putting my foot in it" so to speak. :)

A couple of weeks ago, I injured myself during my workout at the gym.  It wasn't so bad at first, but after a couple of days I was in serious pain.  Since I knew it was a strictly muscular issue, I was reluctant to go to the doctor because I really didn't think a steroid shot or pain killers would be the best solution.  My mother has some clients who have a Chinese acupressure clinic, so she suggested I go there.  I have gone a couple of times and things are improving quite a bit.  However, since they have been my mother's clients for a long time and she has helped them with a lot of stuff, they would not accept any payment from me.

So my question is what is an appropriate way to thank them.  Obviously I have thanked them verbally, but in addition I would like to do something more.  The treatments have helped tremendously and are actually fixing the issue instead of masking it.  Normally I would bake a batch of cookies or send a nice fruit basket to their office, but I am not sure if that is appropriate.  The head of the practice is an older Chinese gentleman and I don't want to accidentally give offense.

So, wise eHellions, what do you suggest as a way to say thank you for their help?

gmama

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Re: Appropriate thank you in Chinese culture
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2013, 09:30:06 PM »
Fruit baskets and/or cookies would be greatly appreciated.  Oranges would be nice as they symbolize wealth and prosperity (usually only given in the new year but my mom and aunts pretty much gave them as thank you gifts all year round).  It's also the Moon Cake Festival tomorrow...if you can purchase a small box of mooncakes from a Chinese grocery or bakery, I'm sure that would be appreciated also.

Hope that helps!  :)


eta: You're pretty much okay with giving most anything.  It's the gesture that counts.  But the only things that are a BIG no-no would be giving someone a clock or knives.  Knives because of the symbolism and clocks because the word for clock sounds like the word for death.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2013, 09:34:40 PM by gmama »

Thipu1

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Re: Appropriate thank you in Chinese culture
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2013, 10:02:14 AM »
If you can find the moon cakes, that would be very sweet.  However, the fruit basket would also be an excellent choice.  Sending just about anything that you would send as a gift to be shared in a business situation would be very unlikely to give offense. 

JadeGirl

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Re: Appropriate thank you in Chinese culture
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2013, 10:30:48 AM »
Cookies, a fruit basket or other consumable items that can be shared would be entirely appropriate.

kitchcat

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Re: Appropriate thank you in Chinese culture
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2013, 01:21:29 PM »
I may be out on a limb here, but I have never liked when people give culturally/ethnically themed gifts  because the receipient is X race. Thank them the way you would thank any other person. I know it's well intentiond, but to me it feels like the giver sees your ethnicity, not an individual.
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TeraNova15

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Re: Appropriate thank you in Chinese culture
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2013, 03:12:39 PM »
I may be out on a limb here, but I have never liked when people give culturally/ethnically themed gifts  because the receipient is X race. Thank them the way you would thank any other person. I know it's well intentiond, but to me it feels like the giver sees your ethnicity, not an individual.

POD

I can see *some* concern if the gentleman was a immigrant who hadn't been in the states long. But if he's (and I'm assuming you live in the US) Chinese American or has been living in the US a long time you should just thank him the same way you would thank anyone else.

If it matters, I am part Chinese and would internally raise an eyebrow if someone bought me a gift based on my ethicity, but I would take it in good stride and in the spirit it was given.

White Lotus

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Re: Appropriate thank you in Chinese culture
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2013, 03:21:10 PM »
I'd be OK with moon cakes because they aren't available all the time, and I would think the giver was just being especially thoughtful to think of the season, but that may be because I like them so much. However, OP may not know where to get them, or what kind is the best -- everyone has a favorite. Any fruit is good -- I tend to go with best of the season.

barefoot_girl

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Re: Appropriate thank you in Chinese culture
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2013, 03:47:17 PM »
I completely agree with kitchcat - you're not giving him the gift because he is XYZ ethnicity, you've giving him the gift because he has done you a pretty major favour and ios a kindly man. I am not aware of any cultures in which a tray of cookies or sweets is not appreciated!

EllenS

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Re: Appropriate thank you in Chinese culture
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2013, 03:58:26 PM »
I think picking an ethnically-themed gift, is quite different from trying to avoid anything that might be accidentally offensive, or learning something that might be extra-special like the oranges.  Anyone might enjoy a citrus basket, but if oranges have a positive traditional meaning, that is even better.  I learned something from Gmama's post, and am glad to know, as a set of kitchen knifes is a very common wedding gift in the US.  Now I know that would not be a good choice for my Chinese-American friends.

Katana_Geldar

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Re: Appropriate thank you in Chinese culture
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2013, 07:16:44 PM »
I think picking an ethnically-themed gift, is quite different from trying to avoid anything that might be accidentally offensive, or learning something that might be extra-special like the oranges.  Anyone might enjoy a citrus basket, but if oranges have a positive traditional meaning, that is even better.  I learned something from Gmama's post, and am glad to know, as a set of kitchen knifes is a very common wedding gift in the US.  Now I know that would not be a good choice for my Chinese-American friends.
Even I. Western culture a knife can be considered a bad luck gift as it can cut the relationship between you. Some people will "buy" the gift off the giver for a small denomination doing (like a cent of five cents).

Twik

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Re: Appropriate thank you in Chinese culture
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2013, 03:32:49 PM »
I can see why making too much of an effort to make the gift "culturally appropriate" might be seen as patronizing. But if anyone ever wants to reward me with a haggis, I will have nothing untoward to say about it.
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Psychopoesie

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Re: Appropriate thank you in Chinese culture
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2013, 08:08:11 PM »
I think picking an ethnically-themed gift, is quite different from trying to avoid anything that might be accidentally offensive, or learning something that might be extra-special like the oranges.  Anyone might enjoy a citrus basket, but if oranges have a positive traditional meaning, that is even better.  I learned something from Gmama's post, and am glad to know, as a set of kitchen knifes is a very common wedding gift in the US.  Now I know that would not be a good choice for my Chinese-American friends.
Even I. Western culture a knife can be considered a bad luck gift as it can cut the relationship between you. Some people will "buy" the gift off the giver for a small denomination doing (like a cent of five cents).

Same as me (western, not chinese background) - if you give knife or scissors (anything that can cut the love), there has to be a token purchase to avoid the bad luck.

Also reminds me that it's bad luck to give an empty purse - a coin is usually included to pass along prosperity rather than poverty.

MissKitty

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Re: Appropriate thank you in Chinese culture
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2013, 07:31:53 PM »
Hi all, OP here.

Quote
I think picking an ethnically-themed gift, is quite different from trying to avoid anything that might be accidentally offensive, or learning something that might be extra-special like the oranges. 

The latter above is what I was looking for.  I do feel awkward giving something from Chinese culture just because they are Chinese, but I also did not want to give something that would be inadvertently offensive.  Now that I know fruit would be welcome, I am probably going to go with that since I am way too slammed at work to bake right now.

I am also interested in the discussion about giving kitchen knives as a wedding gift.  A few years ago I gave a very nice set of knives to some friends getting married and they were thrilled.  In fact the groom (who does a lot of cooking) was so excited he was jumping up and down.  They had wanted to register for them but thought they were too expensive.  Either way, it hasn't seemed to affect their marriage since they are very happy and have two great kids now.   :)

Thanks again for all the good ideas for helping me learn something new.