Chinese Culture – Feng Shui

Feng shui 風水 is an ancient art that originated in China over 3,000 years ago, and is key aspect of Chinese culture today. In literal translation, ‘feng’ means ‘wind’ 風 and ‘shui’ means ‘water’ 水.

Here is how you pronounce these Mandarin Chinese words correctly:

The pronunciation of ‘feng’ is ‘eng’ which is the combination of ‘ir’ like in ‘firm’ and ‘ng’ like in ‘sung’. This sound is ‘ir’ plus ‘ng’.  

The pronunciation of ‘shui’ is ‘way’ like in ‘way’.

Now you can say these Mandarin Chinese words feng shui correctly.

According to Chinese philosophy, when things are placed in the appropriate environment the feng shui of a space creates a positive energy and in turn there is harmony in that space. This then allows individuals to feel more comfortable within their surrounding environment. Feng shui is relevant in spaces such as the home, the garden, or at the office.

For Chinese people understanding how the placement of yourself and objects within a space can bring either favourable or unfavourable effects is a very important cultural element. This is extremely relevant in the Chinese business environment, because for Chinese people, the quality of the feng shui can be the force behind how profitable the business is likely to be.

In a Western culture, if you are dealing with Chinese people and you invite them to your office, it is a good idea to understand the basics of feng shui so your Chinese contacts can feel at ease and therefore confident to conduct business with you. Simple adjustments such as placing live plants at the front door and having the workspace facing the front of the office are some of the elements that create a feng shui friendly office.

In China before setting up an office it is common practice to bring in a feng shui expert to measure the feng shui in the office and to advice on the necessary adjustments needed to create a place with positive energy. The closest comparison in Western culture is an interior decorator; however, each design by an interior decorator is individual for each space according to what the client wants. In contrast, feng shui is a set formula which is used for each space, and the fundamental rules do not change.  

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