First Professional Blunder

My very first professional outreach had a pretty awful start. A friend of mine gave me a contact in Taipei.  From the name I could not tell whether this person is a male or female. It is not OK to address someone you don’t know by first name. I searched on the Internet and found only group photos with the person so I still couldnt’ tell the gender. After all that, I decided to start my email with, “Dear teacher so and so”, which, I thought, is a traditional Chinese form of addressing someone with respect. Well, I just had my 2-day intercultural training, about which I will write very soon, and the trainer said that in Taiwan, people would call a fortune-teller, “teacher”!  What, a fortune-t.., WHAT?! 

Do you think I would get a reply? Not yet today.

    • gwen
    • September 13th, 2010

    Xin! I’m sorry to laugh, but that is just too funny… don’t worry, though, I’m sure that the person will recognize that you don’t yet know all the social conventions and forgive you. And maybe it’s a compliment to call someone “fortune-teller” — like calling someone “All-Powerful Wizard” here?🙂

    • Irene Ke
    • September 13th, 2010

    I think using “teacher” to address someone, especially in an educational setting is fine. I believe that “Shi-Fu” is used for fortune tellers more than “teacher.” The person may be just not sure whether your message is a “real”!

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