Top 6 Annoying Eating Habits Chinese People Hate

While every culture has its own set of manners and etiquette, dining manners are especially important. They are not always the same across cultures since we oftentimes use different eating utensils or in some cultures, none at all. Chinese eating etiquette maintains its traditions and many Chinese people have weighed in to tell us what the top 6 worst eating manners are.

1. Playing with Your Chopsticks

Chopsticks are traditional Chinese eating tools, like forks and knives. Never play with them. This includes tapping a bowl, pointing to someone else with them, or sticking them upright it in your food. It is especially rude if there are elders at the dinner table. They especially dislike this behavior because it seems disrespectful toward other people on the table and can affect the dining experience for everyone.

2. Moving One’s Favorite Dishes Closer to One’s Self

In China, everyone sits around a table to eat together. Learning to share is a virtue. By putting your favorite dishes in front of you it is seen as selfish, rude, impolite behavior. If you really like a particular dish, you can put a portion of it on your own plate instead of moving it closer to yourself. In addition, delicious food should be shared with everyone. In China, especially, offer family or friends the more delicious dishes instead of just eating all to yourself.

3. Making Noises While Eating

In China, try not to make noise while eating, such as sucking, sneezing, or coughing. Because everyone is sitting around eating, they will notice the sound of your mouth including sneezing, coughing, etc. Also, you should also immediately cover your mouth with a napkin, otherwise it will spread the saliva into the food, which is annoying at best.

4. Eating Before Others Are Seated at the Table

If you are having a meal with family or friends and you start eating before someone else has had the chance to sit down, it would be very rude. According to Chinese table manners, we should wait until everyone has arrived at the table, and then start eating, especially when there are elders. And traditionally, you must pick up your chopsticks only after the elders say start eating.

5. Drinking Alcohol Alone

Generally speaking, at the Chinese table, the host serves alcohol while preparing the food. But please don’t drink alone. This can make the host feel that you are not eating happily. Because saying “干杯cheers” with others is the basic etiquette at the Chinese table. This word means that you are drinking and showing that you are a bold and cheerful person. And, after everyone has said “cheers”, it is very impolite to drink only a little or not drink at all.

6. Not Focusing on Eating

In China, eating is more than just eating. It is a very important way for Chinese people to maintain relationships and enhance emotional communication. Therefore, when eating with others, you should focus on the food and friends at the dinner table. If you keep on making calls or playing with your mobile phone, don’t talk to others, and don’t make time to talk to others, it is very aggravating. So, don’t be part of the “heads down group”!

Now that you know what is expected of you as a guest during a Chinese meal you can be on your best behavior. By avoiding these top 6 bad table manners you will have no problem navigating Chinese eating culture and you can be sure your time together will be more enjoyable and stress-free. Just be sure to share and thoroughly appreciate the people around you.

― Written by Lisa Zhang ―

Lisa Zhang is a Chinese teacher and editor for eChineseLearning (an online Chinese school). She has many years of Chinese language teaching experience, loves to read and is definitely a foodie. She hopes she can help more people to learn Chinese language and really get to know Chinese culture.

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