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The Cha bu duo Mindset

The Chinese approach to things is typically much less exact than in other cultures, and is summed up by the word “chabuduo”, meaning “nearly” or “almost”.

This also often translates to “good enough” in Chinese thinking.

Expat’s Struggle with their Chinese coworkers or employees:

You will encounter a general difference in attention to details and consistency.

Example 1: Formatting Chaos

Many documents from China seem to have chaotic formatting, with different fonts and font sizes.

They attribute this to the fact that many employees in China need to switch between English and Chinese keyboard settings, which often changes the default font size and style.

They explain that many Chinese people don’t notice the difference between different font styles, in the same way that English speakers wouldn’t notice if different styles were used for Chinese characters.

Example 2: Punctuation

The punctuation in texts written by Chinese people is often inconsistent, with missing blanks or a blank space inserted at the wrong location.

This is often due to a lack of understanding of how to use punctuation correctly.

As a result, these texts can be easily spotted by native speakers of English.

Solution:

  • You should give very specific style instructions, ideally with a template, and review everything carefully.
  • If you want to preserve a clean original, make sure to bring a copy to write on.

Chinese Perspectives:

At personal levels, cha bu duo is positive, and a way for saying, “This is practical.” 

In a professional setting, it usually means something negative.

Personal Level: Expressing forgiveness or acceptance

Cha bu duo can help you be kinder towards situations you don’t understand, and more tolerant. Not everything has to be a big deal.

For example, “So many luggage?” It should be, “So much luggage,” but many vs. much in a different use case is correct — They are Cha bu duo.

Professional Level: Substandard quality

Cutting cost and improve work efficiency with chabuduo approach can severely impact the quality of the output.

You only have to look at the quality of the workmanship in many buildings in China and substandard parts in electronics.

Most people won’t notice lower quality, slower RAM chips in a phone.

Chinese Critism towards their Cha bu duo mindset:

The expression “cha bu duo” is often used to describe poor work or a lack of effort.

The phrase comes from a famous allegory written by Chinese Philosopher Hu Shih, which was meant to protest the substandard work of government employees.

hu shi

Hu Shih also wrote that Mr. Chabuduo’s name was spoken by many people every day, to the point where he came to represent the entire population of China. Sadly, this is still true today.

Mr Cha Buduo doesn’t understand why he misses trains by arriving at 8:32 instead of 8:30, or why his boss gets angry when he writes 1,000 instead of 10, or why Iceland is different from Ireland. He falls ill and sends for Dr Wāng, but ends up getting Mr Wáng, the veterinarian, by mistake. Yet as he slips away, he is consoled by the thought that life and death, after all, are close enough.”

— The Life of Mr. Chabuduo by Hu Shih

How does young ones think about Cha bu duo?

Some believe that in a professional work setting, we need to get rid of this “Cha bu duo” mindset to reach a certain level of perfection and precision.

Others resonate themselves in a similar situation with lyrics as sang in this song “Mr. Cha bu duo” from rapper MC HOTDOG.

It is about someone who is still ok with their current situation, feels like to change something to make it better but finds powerless or not urgent enough to make actions.

This is “Cha bu duo” lifestyle and They are Mr. Cha bu duo.

Mr.chabuduo
Mc HOTDOG

Mr. cha bu duo

Sum Up:

Really hope this article gives you an objective and thorough views towards “Cha bu duo” mindset in Chinese culture.

If you experience something similar and would like to share your experience, please write them in the comment section below. I am more than happy to hear from you 🙂

After some serious input, this article will give you a laugh ’20 Hilarious Fake Chinese Brands Knockoffs‘.

If you plan to visit China soon and want to learn more about the country before visiting, why not watch some award-winning documentaries?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

What is Chabuduo in Chinese?

It’s 差不多.

What does Chabuduo mean when you talk to Chinese suppliers?

If there is one expression that illustrates this difference in attitude towards quality standards, it is “Cha Bu Duo”, which can be translated as “not far off” or “close enough”. Check this full article out! (link here)

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