How to talk Like a boss

Updated: 2013-05-17 08:42

By Duncan Poupard (China Daily)

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How to talk Like a boss

The management arts of boasting and blagging

'To be a boss is glorious." What, in truth, could be more glorious than fanning oneself with 100 yuan ($16, 12 euros) notes while being presented expensive cigarettes by obsequious underlings? These are the advantages that being a laoban brings: buckets of renminbi and buckets of face; the two things that make up the sinosphere's central axis.

China is the land of the boss. Coal bosses, state-owned company bosses, university bosses, even village bosses and public lavatory bosses. People in the service industry will call you laoban even if you are not one, not unlike the English "you are the boss", only more ubiquitous. You do not even need the striped polo shirt and the shiny leather belt, the de facto status signifiers of some 10 years ago. The trick is to get the "movers and shakers" of modern China to recognize your boss credentials.

To really talk like a Chinese laoban, you will first need to understand the psychology.

Blagging for beginners

Your company is going places. It is the next Tencent or Alibaba (at least in your head). The trick is you need to convince everyone else that this is the case. The simple way to achieve this smokescreen of scale is to talk your company up. Why actually do it when you can just say it? Present hyperbole as hard fact.

Talking like a boss therefore involves the well-documented arts of the two Bs: boasting (吹牛 chuīniú) and blagging (忽悠 hūyou). The aim of every boss is to make their organization bigger and it makes perfect sense therefore that one of the most common phrases they utter is "to get bigger and stronger"

(做大做强 zuò dà zuò qiáng).

If we want to get bigger and stronger, we must take effective measures, seize opportunities, and work actively to open up international markets.

Wǒmén yào zuò dà zuò qiáng, jiù yào cǎiqǔ yǒulì cuòshī, zhuā zhù jīyù, jījí kāituò guójì shìchǎng.


Similarly, the lexicon of a boss should be replete with cliched ways of stirring up people's emotions, battle cries calling white-collar workers to action:

We must strive all out to achieve great glory!

Fèn fā tú qiáng, zài chuàng huīhuáng!


In the world of the boss, things are not just "completed", they are always "successfully completed" (圆满完成 yuánmǎn wánchéng) - every project, every meeting, every letter opening or ribbon cutting. The addition of the adverb 圆满 (yuánmǎn) just serves to bring home what a great achievement it all is.

Master of meetings

Anyone who has worked at a Chinese company knows about - and dreads - the work meeting. Meetings are generally interminable affairs that operate outside of the normal laws of the universe: time passes slower in a meeting than in the outside world and by some bizarre paradox a lot gets said without anything actually getting said.

The meeting provides a chance for the boss to shine. It is therefore the duty of any boss worth their salt to prolong the meeting by spouting as many platitudes and generalizations as possible.

The boss understands that every meeting is an "important meeting" (重要会议 zhòngyào huìyì). The boss is expected to make pompous pronouncements in every meeting and talk up its importance, even if it is only three people standing around a water cooler.

This is a vital meeting of most great significance.

Zhè cì huìyì hěn zhòngyào, yìyì tèbié zhòngdà.


Doctorate in desk jockey

Of course, any organization is only as good as its employees. The boss needs to be able to talk to their subordinates, and this is generally done not by relating to or sympathizing with them, but by asserting superior status. The boss needs to remember that everything they say is worth paying attention to, worth studying. The employees need to remember who they should be listening to.

You should pay close attention to what your superior says, making sure you have a firm understanding.

Duì lǐngdǎo de zhòngyào jiǎnghuà, yào rènzhēn xuéxí, shēnkè lǐnghuì.

对领导的重要讲话,要认真学 习,深刻领会。

Sometimes the boss can wield power by threatening to fire somebody.

If you don't work hard on your job today, tomorrow you'll be working hard looking for a job!

Jīntiān gōngzuò bù nǔlì, wǒ jiào nǐ míngtiān nǔlì zhǎo gōngzuò!

今天工作不努力,我叫你明天努 力找工作!

Professor of plaudits

Every boss needs to offer encouragement to their employees. This is done not by offering promises of pay rises or promotions, but by telling them to get on with honest work.

You need to strengthen the implementation of solid, practical work.

Nǐ yào zhēn zhuā shí gàn, jiāqiáng luòshí


Do good, honest hard work.

Nǔlì gōngzuò, tàshí zuòrén.


Everyone must rise to the occasion, do more real work and indulge in less idle chatter, forge ahead and strive to create fresh progress.

Dàjiā yào zhènfèn jīngshén, duō gàn shíshì, shǎo shuō kōnghuà, kāituò jìnqǔ, nǔlì kāichuàng gōngzuò de xīn júmiàn.


The real secret to talking like a boss is one that actually permeates all areas of modern Chinese culture. If you say something enough times, it simply becomes true. Don't be limited by the inconvenient boundaries of truth; in short, do not be afraid to talk a little bigger.

Courtesy of The World of Chinese,

The World of Chinese

(China Daily 05/17/2013 page27)