I see you are being a bit reserved; be open

xuliang

Senior Member
Chinese Mandarin
A few customers came to our company. We held a welcome party for them. At the table, the customers didn't speak much and seemed not quite relaxing . A colleague came to them "I see you are being a bit reserved; be open." (This is my translation from Chinese. What he said was Chinese; another colleague translated for him.)

They were being a bit reserved (I am not sure if "reserved" here is appropriate.) because it was a new enviroment for them; they didn't know most of us at the party. For the part in bold, the colleague wanted to encourge the customers to be more "relaxing" in the atmosphere. (still, "relaxing" here may be not so appropriate). You know, when you are with people you are not quite familar with, you are not behaving as relaxing as when you are with friendly people. I am wondering if my part in bold is natural. WHat would you suggest? Thank you.
 
  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Both reserved and open are the wrong words to use: They are quite formal, and yet they were used to try to create more informality.

    Also, much depends on how the sentence was said and the circumstances at the time. However, I think that your customers would have known what was meant.

    It is not possible to advise any further as everything will depend on (i) the culture that your customers came from (ii) the status of the person saying it, (iii) the tone and circumstances in which it was said.
     

    xuliang

    Senior Member
    Chinese Mandarin
    Both reserved and open are the wrong words to use: They are quite formal, and yet they were used to try to create more informality.

    Also, much depends on how the sentence was said and the circumstances at the time. However, I think that your customers would have known what was meant.

    It is not possible to advise any further as everything will depend on (i) the culture that your customers came from (ii) the status of the person saying it, (iii) the tone and circumstances in which it was said.
    Hi, Paul, thank you for your comments. Hope the information below will help:
    (i) the customers are from the US
    (ii) All of people at the party were sitting at a very long table (two sides of the table);the customers were sitting next to each other; they didn't speak too much. The colleague came to them with a tin of beer in his hand. Before he toasted the three customers, he said the sentence in my OP.
    (iii) The colleague said the sentence in a normal tone, not in a joking tone; he wanted the customers to enjoy the moments and feel more comforatable there.

    Thank you.

    Edit: Add more information: the colleague was well-intentioned; he was not joking nor ordering customers. So he didn't mean any offence.
     
    Last edited:

    joanvillafane

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    I agree with PaulQ. Telling people to be less reserved and more open will usually have the opposite effect.

    Also, the word you need is "relaxed." (not "relaxing")

    I'd probably suggest something more indirect to invite them into the conversation. An offer of food or drink, an introduction to someone else, etc.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    I suspect that the Americans were somewhat surprised by such a party which is probably not usual business practice for them. And "I see you are being a bit reserved; be open."is pointing out a fault in them which would only make them feel worse.

    If I had been the boss, I would have chosen some of your colleagues (and you) who could speak English to go to the customers and talk to them and cheer them up.

    (Slow cross post with Joan who beat me to suggesting the same thing.)
     

    xuliang

    Senior Member
    Chinese Mandarin
    I suspect that the Americans were somewhat surprised by such a party which is probably not usual business practice for them. And "I see you are being a bit reserved; be open."is pointing out a fault in them which would only make them feel worse.

    If I had been the boss, I would have chosen some of your colleagues (and you) who could speak English to go to the customers and talk to them and cheer them up.

    (Slow cross post with Joan who beat me to suggesting the same thing.)
    Hi, Paul. Thank you. I understand now. Sorry, I have one more question: What if I changed my context a little bit: the three people were not customers; they were colleagues in the branch company in the US, but didn't know most of us,not even the colleague who said the above sentence in Chinese. (other contexts are the same.)

    Thank you.
     
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