When you finish your long travel to Vietnam, there are many chances that your memory about locals there might just end with first impression or short conversations. However, there are also chances that they become the ones you treasure and want to maintain a long-lasting relationship with. They may be a friend, or someone you have a crush on, or even a potential business partner, or just a very special person that you want to keep contact with. And here comes the question: How to establish and maintain relationships with Vietnamese people?
Before answering this question, I want you to drift off the topic a little to hear the story of Pieter Levels – a foreign tourist as well as a famous blogger who visited Vietnam for a couple of weeks and written down his experiences in his personal blog: https://levels.io/vietnamese-rude/
As mentioned in the previous article named “What is the attitude of Vietnamese people towards foreigners?”, there is a disparity in the attitude of Vietnamese towards foreigners of some Vietnamese. While most of foreigners receive welcoming and hospitable treatments, some, on the contrary were poorly treated.
The experience of Pieter Levels falls into the latter category. He was cheated, nearly getting himself kill on the streets by motorbikes and went through a lot of other culture clash.
Despite these disappointing experiences, he decided to figure out what the Vietnamese were about. He kept going to a coffee bar where was filled with locals and things started to change.
Some of the Vietnamese grew to open up to him. They started smiling at him, telling him about their lives and inviting him to their homes. So after a while trying to understand Vietnamese people, here is his answer:
The deal is that Vietnamese are a strange bunch. Unlike most countries I've visited, if you're a stranger to people, they will not show any interest whatsoever to you, they will shout at you, they will be rude and they will probably not help you when you fall off your motorbike. And that's shit. Part of that is cultural differences, and part of that is just fucked. Like they should seriously figure that shit out.
But then when you transform from stranger into their friend, literally everything changes. They're sweet, curious and welcoming. So they take a while to warm up to people. Way, way, way longer than any other culture I've interacted with so far.
Pieter Levels - a famous blogger has written down his experiences in Vietnam and how he managed to get close to the Vietnamese (Photo credit: Daniel Tay)
What can be inferred from his story?
It is not likely that you might fall into the same situation as Pieter since there are a lot more foreign tourists receiving friendly and hospitable treatments from the Vietnamese. However, the above story does imply the keyword to establish and maintain relationships with Vietnamese locals - “patience”.
As stated in previous article: "What is the attitude of Vietnamese people towards foreigners?", most of Vietnamese are hospitable, yet reserved to foreigners. They would be very much love to welcome your appearance in their life, but due to big cultural differences, it is likely that they will hesitate to let you come closer for long-term relationship.
They can share with you a lot - things you should know about their country, history and culture but it might take time for them to open up about their own story, their true feelings and let you stay in your life as long as you can.
Therefore, if you want to approach them, be patient and don't rush it. There comes a Vietnamese saying: “If you want good tasting food, then boil it well.” The same can be said of building relationships in Vietnam - they do it slowly, yet firmly. It might take more time than you expected, but it is definitely worth it.
Establish your relationship with mutual care and trust
If you are patient enough to wait for your Vietnamese partner to open up to you, your relationship might have a smooth beginning. Both you and your partner share positive attitude and have a lot of things to say to each other. It is time to establish a long-lasting relationship with them. But how? Here are some tips for you:
Face-to-face conversations are important
If you have read previous articles named "How do Vietnamese people communicate with others? (1)", you might know that Vietnamese culture is a high-context culture where oral communication is more preferable than written one. Hence, if you have time, you should invite your Vietnamese partner to a drink, spend time getting together with them. Meeting and sharing can be an effective way to build trust and attachment gradually.
And remember that trust is an important factor that will lead to a Vietnamese deciding whether or not to keep someone in their life. Therefore, if you want to build relationship with a Vietnamese, build it from a scratch with honesty and active sharing.
Actively share about your own story – important stuffs that make you who you are now
It is a common sense that if you want someone to open up to you, you have to take the initiative to open up about yourself first. Since Vietnamese people are quite reserved and would love to observe you first, letting them know more about you is an efficient way to establish trust and sympathy. Have genuine interest in them and they will reciprocate after a while.
Care about your partners and people around them
As mentioned in "How do Vietnamese people communicate with others? (2)", Vietnamese people put great emphasis on their family and those who share intimate relationship with them. When they care about someone, they not only care about that individual but also pay attention to their friends and family.
This trait can be applied in your relationship. Besides taking care of your partner, you should also express interest in important people in their life – their friends and family. A simple question: “How is your family doing” or “how are your friends doing” might do you a great favor. Gradually, you will come to realize how warm and subtle they are in their way of expressing their attention and interest towards you.
Be patient when building your relationship with Vietnamese people
Above are some tips you need to remember when building your relationship with Vietnamese people. A smile and active sharing can help you have a fresh start, but don’t forget to establish mutual care and trust in your relationship. It might take more time than you expect, therefore, be patient.
Once you finish this step and your relationship with your Vietnamese partners goes on smoothly, you might encounter another problem that take place in every cross-culture relationships: Cultural differences. How to deal with them? Check out “How to establish and maintain relationships with Vietnamese people? (2) on Nadova Tours. Stay tuned!
How to establish and maintain relationship with Vietnamese people? (2)