It’s the little things that can reveal a person’s true character. According to accomplished Sinophile Sean Upton-McLaughlin: “Traditional Chinese beliefs have also emphasized a person’s character, or sù zhì (素质), which boils down to proper etiquette and the accepted way of behaving both in social and business situations.”
To the Chinese, Sù zhì — also translated as inner quality — is very important. Those with a higher level of inner quality are considered more successful in life because of their excellent influence on others.
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Sean Upton-McLaughlin considers that for modern society, these traditional qualities can be translated into the categories of modesty and keeping a low profile, tact and respect, and education and knowledge.
Your character is revealed through your inner qualities
1. Responding to emails and other messages in a timely way
When a person sends an email but hears nothing back, they can become worried. Responding in a timely way to other people’s messages is an expression of good manners and can also be considered a duty. You should explain the reason if you cannot respond in time. You are a responsible person if you report the results of everything you handle, carry out every task assigned to you, and respond to every message addressed to you.
2. Emotional stability
Naturally, you may have moods that fluctuate, but managing your emotions well is a sign of good self-control and maturity. If you can show self-restraint in any situation, it is easy to make and keep friends and have good days. One who accomplishes this is magnanimous.
3. Being on time
Everybody’s time is precious in today’s busy society, so punctuality is simply good manners and the most basic form of respect. Moreover, those who are always on time are considered more trustworthy.
4. Never taking advantage of others
Human interactions are always dynamic. Some people never take other people’s generosity for granted. If they eat with a friend and the bill is paid by that friend, they will be sure to pay the bill next time in return. They pay every cent that they owe, never taking advantage of others.
5. Being kind to strangers
A person’s attitude toward strangers best reveals their real personality because strangers are not involved in one’s self-interest. One’s character and self-cultivation determine their attitudes toward strangers. A person who is kind to strangers will be kind to those who are close to him. This type of person has good character.
6. Never talking about other people’s shortcomings
Some people are circumspect enough to keep things to themselves and never say anything embarrassing about others. Even when others put themselves down, they don’t go along with it. Those who can master these situations have outstanding emotional intelligence.
7. Not boasting
One should be honest in what one says and what one does. Empty chatter does not solve problems. A person’s capabilities are based on personal actions, not talking. Therefore, those who talk less than they act are the most reliable.
8. Not invading other people’s privacy
When people key in any password, there are those who may step back and look away. When people are on the phone, they will avoid listening. These types of people know how to respect other people’s privacy.
9. Not putting people out
Before visiting, you should contact the host in advance. Never visit any friend without previous notice, and (most important in Chinese culture), never turn up without an appropriate present. Some people will never feel “at home” in a friend’s place or overstay their welcome, refusing to inconvenience the host even if they are close friends. These people have a good sense of propriety.
10. Being considerate
When taking the elevator, there are those who will wait a moment before pushing the button to close the door in case someone outside might be in a rush to catch it. When they drive through puddles, they always slow down so that the water will not splash the pedestrians. They think about others in everything they do. These people are kind-hearted.
Translated by Audrey Wang