Not Very Yes

My husband John just accepted an offer of work from Huaweihooray! I am very happy for him to get a good job as a Software Engineer after so long.  John and I are in different groups but are at the same company together for the third time. Huawei is a leading telecom solutions provider based in Shenzhen, China (near Hong Kong). John and I are working in their Santa Clara, California, center.

I have been working as Huawei’s Chief Analyst, Software Development Trends, for the past month. It is an interesting place. In the thirty years I have worked in research and development, I am used to being in the minority because I am a woman. At Huawei, I am also one of a small group whose primary language is English, and I am even more unusual in being a born American.

Despite our cultural and language differences, my new co-workers have been helpful and welcoming. The lady in the office next door has shared her honeysuckle tea and her cookies. I brought in some of the roses and nandina from my garden for her and others who have helped me. I am learning how to work with both the Chinese nationals and my fellow “foreign experts”.

As in many cultures, saying a direct “no” seems to be impolite in China. I have started listening for the ways in which my co-workers give an indirect negative response, such as:

“Not very Yes”
“Not exactly”
“Not so much…”
“I have a suggestion…”
“Not very good”
“Maybe, but…”


Image 2010 Copyright by Katy Dickinson

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