For the longest time, Filipinos have been going to Hong Kong to work. This is for the simple reason that overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong earn significantly higher than those in the Philippines.
But don’t let this get you all hooked up right away. We always have to consider the good along with the bad, and here in Hong Kong, just like in any parts of the world, there are certain things that we need to consider in order to have meaningful and productive work experience.
How to Behave in Hong Kong
- Always keep an open mind, but know your rights.
The first point does not mean to tolerate discrimination. On the contrary, knowing what to do in such situations can help one better cope with the challenges that come along with working overseas such as in Hong Kong or in any part of the world for that matter.
Yes, there will be racial slurs and biases, given that we’re dealing with different nationalities (mostly Chinese), but this is only a minor hump that any of us can rise above with the right attitude.
- Greet people accordingly.
As in most Asian countries, greeting others in Hong Kong must be generally formal by social standards and nonthreatening on a personal level.
A light handshake (especially when making new acquaintances at work or otherwise) along with the habit of lowering your eyes is the generic way of greeting people in Hong Kong.
Depending on one’s position in society, longer eye contact is acceptable, but as a form of respect (especially to those older or higher in position than us). We should also address people by their title (doctor, professor, Mister or Madam), unless they offer to be called by their first name.
- Observe Personal Space when Engaging Others for Small Talk.
While standing close to one another is the general way of how people hold conversations here in Hong Kong, body contact seldom occurs (if at all). Therefore, never hug or kiss another person, or even pat someone in the back for that matter. Age and disposition in society are especially considered in this unspoken rule in the city. For good measure, avoid speaking loudly in public places such as the train station or tram. Also, avoid topics such as politics, or speaking your mind openly, especially in the company of strangers, as this might directly or indirectly offend others.
- Giving Gifts.
It is customary here in Hong Kong to bring gifts when invited over to someone’s house. As we are dealing with a predominantly Chinese society, take note of Chinese customs and traditions when selecting a gift to bring. Typically, flowers, imported wine, and quality sweets are good choices for starters. Also be careful NOT to present gifts in “fours,” as the number “four” means “death” in Cantonese. DO give gifts in threes (similar to the word “life”), eight (sounds like “prosperity”), or nine (related to the word “eternity”)
Also consider wrapping gifts in auspicious colours such as gold and red, and be sure to present it with both hands. It is also considered polite to refuse a gift a few times before accepting it.
- Public Behaviour
In general, avoid any loud or obtrusive behaviour in public in order to blend easier in Hong Kong culture. Avoid showing any public display of affection such as holding hands or touching someone indiscriminately. Also, do not drink too much in public and smoke moderately, as it is prohibited in some areas such as parks and beaches.
There are many things that we still have yet to learn when staying overseas and most of them are things that we only discover as we start to acclimate ourselves in our host country. In general, it’s always important to be tactful and respectful when we conduct ourselves in front of others, especially to other nationalities.