Thursday, October 29, 2009

Never ending communication issues

Never just trust what someone tells you

3 days ago (while still in Sweden) I get a sms from one of my teachers:

“Hi Jonna, we are so sorry but all lessons are cancelled from Wed to Fri. We have an event then.”

Bummer, I think, but still, reply with an “Okay.”

Then yesterday, when I’m sitting, jet-lagged and itchy on my couch feeling everything but flash I suddenly get a phone call from another teacher:

“Hi Jonna, you didn’t come to school today. Will you come tomorrow?”

“Eh… what? I was told all lessons were cancelled!”

“Who told you that?!”

“One of you teachers!”

“But you are back in China?”

“Yes. So what.. do I have class tomorrow?”

“Eh… well… no, how about I see you next week instead?”

“What about tomorrow though? And what about the event? Do you have an event now?”

“Well... ehh... next week have midterm exams”

“How about me, do I not get any midterm exam?”

“No… well seeing it is only you in your class we were thinking there was no need.”

(fine, I’m not going to force them to give me an exam, I’m over that!)

“So see you next week! Bye bye!”

“eh… bye?!”

I hang up, thinking to myself: “what on earth just happened?” So I text the teacher again saying “Why did you say my classes were cancelled?”

No reply. I decide to deal with it when I see them face to face instead.

Still, the lack of communication over here is sometimes quite appalling. I don't understand how things can always go so wrong? It is like, one person (in this case, one of my teachers) tells you something, but forgets to tell others (in this case, her workmates) about it. 

I guess from now on I should always question my sms:es. 

(Oh, and in this case it is not a language mix-up. All this communication happened in Chinese)


Anonymous said...

Reminds me of what happened here last week. Influenza is really bad here so a lot of the schools have been reporting the school festivals. So on Thursday I went to the office thinking that I worked on Saturday at one of the school festival. Then, my boss told me that it had been reported. I was really happy not to work on Saturday. Then, one of the teachers from that school called me and confirmed that they were actually holding the festival. I was disappointed but there wasn't much I could do about it. Then, on Friday, I went to the office thinking that I worked on Saturday and my boss told me that they had postponed the festival after all. In the end I called the school to make sure but, boy, did I wish they would make up their minds!

heathersuperjohn said...

Hahaha. I teach in Gansu. Sometimes I turn up to class and there are no students - I often never find out why. Last week I went to class and there were no students or even furniture, so I went home. Next week I asked one of the other teachers, and they said, "Oh the class has moved to the other building. Did no one tell you?"
But none of the other teachers seem to know much more than me - for example they usually don't know dates for exams or holidays until the last minute. Sometimes information here seems to be on even less than a need-to-know basis.

B. said...

I'd say that the conversation you transcribed is par for the course in China. You should be used to that by now!

Pete In Syracuse said...

This is definitely is a cultural thing because at work the same thing happens. It's almost like everybody is afraid to insult everybody so a decision is made and then the big wish is put out to spread the news but all it is, is a wish. If your not dilligent with constantly checking you never know and even if you do check your wrong if you don't keep up with the current decision, which changes if someone down the line is insulted by the change. My question then is this ... Who is this one person that seems to be able to change the decision in mid-stream & can you get me the phone number of them so I can give them a call when I'm in the middle of one of these times? :o) lol

Brad Farless said...

Ya. I don't think that particular problem is local to China. People screw things up all the time when it comes to miscommunication.

Jonna Wibelius said...

kanmuri -man, that kind of stuff drives me crazy! I can imagine u must have been quite annoyed too. Well in the long run I guess u were happy that u didn't have to work.. then again, the festival was postponed so I guess it means the day will soon come...

heathersuperjohn -hahahhaha, your story cracked me up!! Thanks for sharing. That is just SO China, and exactly how it is. It is always the same when I ask about thing at school:

"when is our christmas holiday?"
"ehhh... don't know?"
"When does the semester end?"
"Don't know"
"when does next semester start?"
"Not sure"

Planning doesn't seem to be something people bother to do over here.

B -I guess I should, still, I cannot help feeling annoyed because not it is not a language barrier anymore.. now it is simply a lack of communication.

Pete -I guess u r right. When I worked in Shanghai I once set up a meeting (a photo shoot in the middle of nowhere in Pudong between me, a photographer and an Aussie Rugby team). some week in advance. When the date came I woke up with a flu and called and told the Rugby team. They understood and said they would still wait for the (chinese) photographer. Only though... he never showed up. When I eventually got a hold of him he told me he was on a train on his way to Guangzhou. He'd completely forgotten all about the shoot. That's when I learned the importance of confirming and reminding people about things over here. I guess I forget all about it this time though.

Brad -naaaah, I'd say it is definitely different here compared to back home. Sure, there is miscommunication but not like this.

george said...

i think it must be a cultural thingy , for example, when i first came to UK, i was so annoyed by you have to make an appointment to see anyone, in China, you normally just go to see a doctor, if he's busy you just wait, that's why in China, you could call a day off just because you need to see a doctor, of course the biggest merit of appointment system is it can save both parties' time, but seems Chinese people as a society cares a lot less about time than Western people. If i wait a Chinese friend, they were half hour late and didn't call me, it's normal,but most of my western friend would give me a call when they know they are going to be late.

it also shows in the cooking, as you can see the same recipes for 宫保鸡丁(kun pao Chicken)

this one in Chinese:
it only tell you what are the mats you need, and not bother to tell you how much exactly, cuz they jsut assume more or less you can guess how much you will need.

this one in English:# 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 7 to 8 ounces each
# Marinade:
# 2 teaspoons soy sauce
# 2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
# 1 teaspoon sesame oil
# 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
# Sauce:
# 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
# 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
# 1 teaspoon sugar
# 8 small dried red chili peppers
# 2 cloves garlic
# 2 green onions (spring onions, scallions)
# 4 tablespoons oil for stir-frying, or as needed
# 1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorn, optional

the English one gives you a much more standard instruction.

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