HHH public 'ridicule runner's ceremony' -only embarrassing if the boss is watching?
Yesterday, fellow blogger ’Woai’ wrote about losing face, and situations in Shanghai where the Chinese seem to take the concept to ridiculous extremes. It is funny this whole thing with losing face, because I find it a little bit contradictive. Before when I was working here I used to interview a lot of foreign CEOs and they all told me that ‘here in China, you really have to pay attention to that you don’t accidently make one of your employees lose face. For instance, if s/he comes with a somewhat stupid idea during a meeting, you should not ridicule the idea in front of the whole team of employees, but rather take him/her aside and tell her.’
Yeah, sure so this is all very clear to me. Chinese people should not be ridiculed in front of others (actually, who would NOT mind that??!), but then my question is, how can there be such a difference between losing face when being ridiculed by others and losing face when ridiculing yourself?
The other day at the gym I stepped into the stretching room and sat down on a yoga mat to do some stretching. Behind me, a young Chinese girl got clearly annoyed as she was using the mirror that I had sat down in front of. I didn’t care, it is a small room and not so much space, and obviously, neither did she, because moments later she started dancing.
Dancing is great. I love it too. Although I normally do it at clubs and stuff, or, (if I am really keen) at home in front of the mirror. This girl, however, was listening to her ipod, so only she could hear the music, and doing some pretty daring moves in front of the mirror… (ever seen a music video of ‘The Pussycat dolls’? Well, if so, you get an idea). It started with some sexy hip swinging, some pole grabbing and pirouettes, but soon she was down on the floor, crawling towards the mirror (she crawled passed me), with the whole mouth pouting and some (attempted) sexy look going on. Seeing that I was also seated in front of the mirror I had to look somewhere else not to bust out laughing. I don’t know if it was the over-the-top, ‘sexy’ dancing or if it was the fact that she was doing all these moves to music that only she could hear that I found so hilarious, but seriously –it just looked so silly?! (being all polite, however, I would never laugh out loud… it’s just not in my upbringing to point, stare or laugh at others).
The girl didn’t care what-so-ever (I guess that I should add that she wasn't any 'star' dancer). She got up on her legs again, grabbed a ‘pole’ (in fact an exercise pole attached to the wall, I think it is supposed to be used as a stretching tool) and continued her sexy performance. It wasn’t just her and I in the stretching room, but also a bunch of guys, some watching her with interest and some who didn’t care at all. When I left 20 minutes later she was STILL swinging herself around, hugging poles and crawling on the floor. I've got to give her some credit for not caring about what other people think –and applaud her for the fact that she got quite an exercise session out of this!
Don’t get me wrong here –I don’t think there’s anything wrong with dancing. But I would never do what that girl did out in the public. I would find it completely embarrassing to even be caught dancing to music in my ipod that I can hear but everyone else is oblivious to. To then add some (attempted) sexy pouting, crawling on the floor, and pole grinding…. Oh lord, just thinking about it makes my face turn red!
My point is –what’s the whole deal with losing face over here? Is it only other people that can make you lose face? What about yourself? Where do you draw the limit of what is embarrassing and not? How can pretending to be a Pussycat doll at a public place not be considered as embarrassing as getting your idea ridiculed by your boss? It is still happening in front of other people? And I reckon crawling around on the floor definitely puts yourself out there much more than opening your mouth and sharing a (stupid or not so stupid) idea does? Or is that just me?