In fact, there are three pillars of Vietnamese society, and they are family, family and family! This could be spelled out as family (Immediate), family (extended) and family (projected). It would be difficult to…
In fact, there are three pillars of Vietnamese society, and they are family, family and family! This could be spelled out as family (Immediate), family (extended) and family (projected). It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of family and the extent to which the ‘family’ model is present in all of the country’s institutions.) Wards and districts are run like extended families. Each government office reproduces the family model with a paternal figure at the helm (usually a man), looking after his ‘children’ (i.e. employees).
Even in a business environment, employers and colleagues will treat you as part of an extended family, taking care of you when you are sick, visiting you on weekends and holidays, Inviting you to their weddings, funerals, housewarmings, and so on (and expecting to be invited to yours!). Naturally, there is also a downside to all this intimacy: people regularly enquiring about your everyday doings or movements and interfering in your personal life. You’ll receive plenty of unsolicited advice – but if you listen, you’ll soon learn plenty about how things are done the Vietnam way!
DO realize that the Vietnamese have a very different perspective on social, political and business organizations, most of which are modeled on the extended family concept. DON’T be offended if newly made friends poke into every detail of your personal life. They are in fact helping you become part of a Vietnamese group. DO enquire about your Vietnamese friends’ health, families and personal life. It will show interest and respect. DO understand that family matters are paramount and unexpected family responsibilities will take precedence over appointments and activities scheduled previously.
Take a second look at the legend of the origin of Vietnamese people. All Vietnamese, from the deltas to the mountains, descend from the marriage of a dragon lord (Lac) and an immortal princess (Au Co). The dragon is said to have come south from China and, once all their children were grown up, the dragon and his wife the princess retired to the spirit world. What Vietnamese retain from the story is that all Vietnamese people are related to each other. More than one country, this is one (very) extended family… or at least that’s what they would like it to be! As much as Westerners are ‘task-oriented’, Vietnamese are ‘relationship-oriented’. You have a problem? Work on the relationship.