HOW TO be A peace Maker

The World of Chinese - - Social Chinese - BY SUN JIAHUI (孙佳慧)

From mis­un­der­stand­ings to cou­ple’s quar­rels, help re­store har­mony to any sit­u­a­tion


Chi­nese cul­ture places a pre­mium on the con­cept of “peace.” Through­out his­tory, the re­frain that “peace is most pre­cious” (以和为贵y@ h9 w9i gu#) has pre­vailed. For fam­ily af­fairs, we have the phrase 家和万事兴 ( ji` h9 w3nsh# x~ng, a peace­ful fam­ily leads to the suc­cess of all things); for busi­ness, it’s said that 和气生财( h9q# sh8ng c1i, ami­a­bil­ity breeds riches).

How­ever, where there are hu­mans, there are con­flicts. Even the hap­pi­est cou­ple, clos­est friends, or most faith­ful part­ners will quar­rel with each other at some point. At this time, a peacemaker might be nec­es­sary. But it’s not an easy role to play. Be­fore you throw your­self into the mid­dle of the bat­tle­field, make sure you’re well pre­pared with the fol­low­ing phrases.

Many con­flicts ac­tu­ally re­sult from mis­un­der­stand­ing. A Chi­nese idiom says that “a by­s­tander is al­ways clear­minded” (旁观者清 p1nggu`nzh0 q~ng). As a third party who can see both sides’ points of view, peace­mak­ers can try to fix the prob­lem by ex­plain­ing the sit­u­a­tion. In most cases, they don’t need to fo­cus on what has al­ready hap­pened; in­stead, they em­pha­size in­ten­tions. He has a sharp tongue [lit. “like a knife”] but a soft heart [like tofu]. Don’t take his words se­ri­ously. T` zh-ge r9n d`ozi zu@ d7ufu x~n, shu4 de hu3 n@ bi9 w2ng x~nli q&. 他这个人刀子嘴豆腐心,说的话你别往心里去。 Al­though he screwed it up, he meant well. I can guar­an­tee he didn't do that on pur­pose. T` zh-y0sh# h2ox~n b3n hu3ish#. W6 g2n d2 b2opi3o t` b% sh# g&y# de. 他这也是好心办坏事,我敢打保票他不是故意的。 What he said was ob­vi­ously spo­ken in anger. Ac­tu­ally, he doesn't mean that at all. T` shu4 de m!ngx­i2n d4ush# q#hu3, sh!j# shang b#ng b% sh# n3ge y#si. 他说的明显都是气话,实际上并不是那个意思。

But de­fend­ing one side in a dis­pute can be tricky. Some­times you will make one per­son feel that you stand with the other, and thus you be­come “the en­emy” as well—the peacemaker in­ad­ver­tently ends up be­com­ing a trou­ble­maker. This is par­tic­u­larly risky when it comes to fam­ily af­fairs or ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships, which are usu­ally too pri­vate for an out­sider to in­ter­vene in. In such a sit­u­a­tion, a peacemaker should avoid de­cid­ing who is right and who is wrong. In­stead, their task is to down­play the con­flict so it ends nat­u­rally. In th­ese cases, some old say­ings can help.

First, make it clear that you are com­pletely im­par­tial:

This is just a case of “ev­ery­one has their own way of say­ing things.” Nei­ther of you is wrong. Zh-ji3n sh# zh8n­shi “G4ng shu4 g4ng y6ul@, p5 shu4 p5 y6ul@”, N@menli2 d4u m9i cu7. 这件事真是“公说公有理,婆说婆有理”,你们俩都没错。 Then make them feel that it’s no big deal to have a fight:

Even your tongue some­times fights with your teeth. Is there any cou­ple who doesn't quar­rel? Sh9­tou h9 y1ch@ h1i d2ji3 ne, gu7 r#zi n2 y6u b& ch2oji3 de? 舌头和牙齿还打架呢,过日子哪有不吵架的? Then, tell them that their prob­lem is not worth blam­ing each other over:

Ev­ery fam­ily has a skele­ton in the closet. Your prob­lem is re­ally not a big deal. Ji` ji` d4u y6u b0n n1n ni3n de j~ng. N@men zh-xi8 w-nt! zh8nde m9i sh9nme d3b&li2o de. 家家都有本难念的经。你们这些问题真的没什么大不了的。

Af­ter the both sides cool down, urge them to patch it up right then, so things don’t turn into a “cold war” later, in which no­body talks to the other side and re­sent­ment fes­ters:

How can there be re­sent­ment be­tween fam­ily mem­bers for more than one night? Why not make it up now? Y# ji` r9n n2 y6u g9y- ch5u? Ku3i h9h2o ba. 一家人哪有隔夜仇?快和好吧。

Of course, not ev­ery­thing can be skated over so eas­ily. In many cases, a fight is a fight; there’s no mis­un­der­stand­ing, no room to com­pro­mise, and the in­ter­ested par­ties won’t let go eas­ily. Then, what can you do? Per­haps cre­ate a dis­trac­tion. Af­ter all, there is al­ways some­thing more im­por­tant, which pro­vides a rea­son


for peo­ple to put down their per­sonal emo­tions. This strat­egy is es­pe­cially use­ful in the work­place.

We should give pri­or­ity to over­all in­ter­ests and fin­ish the task first. Put aside th­ese per­sonal grudges for the mo­ment. W6­men y~ngg`i y@ d3j% w9i zh7ng, xi`n b2 xi3ngm& w1nch9ng, s~r9n 8nyu3n z3nsh! f3ng d3o y#bi`n. 我们应该以大局为重,先把项目完成,私人恩怨暂时放到一边。 It's not the right time to find out who was at fault. Our pri­mary task now is to fix the prob­lem our client raised. Xi3nz3i b% sh# zhu~ji$ z9r-n de sh!hou, w6­men de sh6uy3o r-nw& sh# ji0ju9 k-h& t!ch$ de w-nt!. 现在不是追究责任的时候,我们的首要任务是解决客户提出的问题。

Af­ter suc­cess­fully dis­tract­ing the an­tag­o­nists, seize the op­por­tu­nity af­ter­ward to call a truce. If pos­si­ble, make them prom­ise to never look back on this un­happy event again!

This mat­ter ends here. No one is al­lowed to men­tion it again. Zh- ji3n sh# d3o c@ w9i zh@, y@h7u sh9i d4u b&x^ z3i t!. 这件事到此为止,以后谁都不许再提。 It's time for you guys to bury the hatchet. Gu7q& de b& y%ku3i ji& y# b@ g4uxi`o ba. 过去的不愉快就一笔勾销吧。 For my sake, let the past go. K3n z3i w6 de mi3nzi shang, gu7q& de sh# ji& r3ng ta gu7qu ba. 看在我的面子上,过去的事就让它过去吧。 Some­times, in­stead of the full pic­ture, you only have one side of the story. A dif­fer­ent strat­egy is re­quired. One can first choose to de­ploy a mix of sym­pa­thy (“I’m on your side”) and flat­tery (“Lucky you’re not one to hold a grudge”).

Don't lower your­self to their level. Bi9 g8n t`men y#b`n ji3n­shi. 别跟他们一般见识。 It’s said “A chan­cel­lor’s mind [lit. ‘stom­ach’] is broad enough to punt a boat.” It's his fault, but you're a big­ger per­son, so don't ar­gue. S%hu3 shu4: “Z2ix­i3ng d&li n9ng ch8ngchu1n”. Zhji3n sh# sh# t` b% du#, d3n n@ d3r9n y6u d3li3ng, bi9 h9 t` j#ji3o le.俗话说:“宰相肚里能撑船”,这件事是他不对,但你大人有大量,别和他计较了。

The sec­ond method is just the op­po­site—point out if some­one re­ally is to blame, and urge them to fix it vol­un­tar­ily. You can start by say­ing:

I‘m not judg­ing you, but you re­ally were ask­ing for trou­ble. You can't blame oth­ers. B% sh# w6 shu4 n@, zh- ji3n sh# qu-sh! sh# n@ m9i sh# zh2o sh#, b&n9ng gu3i bi9r9n. 不是我说你,这件事确实是你没事找事, 不能怪别人。 Your words were too harsh, no won­der she was so mad at you. N@ shu4 de hu3 y0 t3i n1nt~ng le, n1n­gu3i t` g8n n@ sh8ngq#. 你说的话也太难听了,难怪她跟你生气。

Of course, it’s not your job to make the peace be­tween oth­ers. As the say­ing goes 解铃还须系铃人( ji0 l!ng h1i x$ j# l!ng r9n, col­lo­qui­ally “he who ties the bell on the tiger must be the one to untie it”), sug­gest­ing that who­ever started the prob­lem should solve it: Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping used this phrase when re­fer­ring to dif­fi­cul­ties ex­pe­ri­enced by New York Times re­porters in China.

If you’ve done your best, feel free to flee the premises with this all-pur­pose exit line:

You guys should calm down for a bit. We can talk about the rest some other day. N@men xi`n l0ngj#ng y!xi3, sh-ngxi3 de w6­men g2iti`n z3i t1n. 你们先冷静一下,剩下的我们改天再谈。


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.