08 September, 2006

Lost in Mandarin

I haven't written much about my "work-life" in Beijing much. I have to figure out a balance there...what I should put out there and what I shouldn't.

Anyway, I've been in a bunch of meetings here over the last couple of weeks, mostly with vendors/recruiting companies. Most of the people can speak pretty good English, but I always tell them at the beginning of the meeting to feel free to discuss in Chinese. What usually happens then...? The entire meeting is run in Chinese & I'm off on the side-lines. Thankfully I always have colleagues with me from either HR or Procurement, and also, my assistant who gives me some written play-by-play.

I don't like this much, because I feel disconnected and out of the loop. This is really motivating me to learn the language at a much faster pace (hence the lessons and "girlfriend"). Not that I'll be able to understand much of what people are discussing in business meetings after 3 months, or even 6 months. However, I'll catch things, I'll catch the major points, I'll be able to understand some of the emotions going on in the room. Right now, I'm limited to trying to understand the body language.

As the frustration sets in, I just take it like any other challenge...it's something that's going to make me better in the long run. It may suck right now, but it will be worth it.