Chinese proverbs about consideration

Working together requires consideration of other people, and this thought features in many Chinese proverbs. Things get along much better if everyone works in harmony.

ān jū lè yè [an ju le ye]
peace reside happy enterprise
Live and work peacefully and contentedly
Wishing you well in a new home
Bù gaò ér bié [bu gao er bie]
not tell but leave
No words when leave. Leave without saying farewell
Leave without saying goodbye
,殃
Chéng mén shī huó, yāng jí chí [cheng men shi huo, yang ji chi yu]
city gate destroy fire , calamity reach moat fish
Burning a city gate kills the fish in the moat
A drastic action may unintentionally affect other people. Show consideration for all
Chū shēng rù sǐ [chu sheng ru si]
be born enter death
To risk one's life
Willing to risk one's life. Offer loyalty
Through thick and thin
打脸
rén bù dǎ liǎn [da ren bu da lian]
strike person not strike 'face'
Better to hit person than their reputation. Losing 'face' is a major consideration for Chinese people
Be diplomatic or tactful when giving criticism
To err is human; to forgive divine
忘筌
wàng quán [de yu wang quan]
catch fish forget trap
After catching a fish forget the trap
Ungrateful behavior, ignoring what made it possible
Don't bite the hand that feeds you
恩将仇
ēn jiāng chóu baò [en jiang chou bao]
kindness will enemy repay
Repay kindness with hostility
Reject kindness
Biting the hand that feeds it
Fēng tóng zhōu [feng yu tong zhou]
wind rain same boat
On the same boat in a storm
Facing troubles together
A trouble shared is a trouble halved
Gé àn guān huǒ [ge an guan huo]
separate bank observe fire
Watch the fire burn from the other side of the river
Just observing and not helping others when help is needed
Gù zuǒ yòu ér yán tā [gu zuo you er yan ta]
look at left and right sides but then talk him
Looking both ways and changing the subject
Avoiding talking about something; taking a long digression
拆桥
Guò hé chāi qiáo [guo he chai qiao]
go river destroy bridge
Dismantling the bridge after crossing it
Not showing consideration for those who follow
Hài qún zhī mǎ [hai qun zhi ma]
injure crowd this horse
Bring injury to the group
The bad person of the family
Bad apple; Black sheep
Tang dynasty, Yunnan, temple, mountains
Shi Zhongshan (Jianchuan or Shibao) Grottoes, Dali, Yunnan
Héng xíng bà dào [heng xing ba dao]
across walk bully road
Walking sidewise to block the way
Being deliberately obstructive
嫁祸
Jià huò yú rén [jia huo yu ren]
marry disaster foremost person
A person in misfortune blames someone else
Put blame onto others
Jiā chǒu bù kě wài yáng [jia chou bu ke wai yang]
family shame not allowed outside scatter
Family shame should not be spread
Keep family problems within the family
Jiā jiā hù hù [jia jia hu hu]
house house door door
Every family
The whole community
Jié āi shùn biàn [jie ai shun bian]
holiday pity submit to alter
Hold back on grief and accept to the mishap
Often said as a token of condolence on a death
蜡烛照亮,却毁
Là zhú zhào liàng bié rén, què huǐ miè le zì jǐ [la zhu zhao liang bie ren, que hui mie le zi ji]
candle illuminate bright other people, but destroy extinguish itself
A candle illuminates others at the cost of burning itself up
Helping others at the cost of not helping yourself
Love thy neighbor as thyself
,
Luó bo bái cài, gè yǒu suǒ ài [luo bo bai cai, ge you suo ai]
radish cabbage, each have place fond
Some prefer radish while others like cabbage
Everyone has their own preferences
Each to his own
麻雀,脏俱
Má què suī xiǎo, zàng jù quán [ma que sui xiao, wu zang ju quan]
rough sparrow although small, five innards all complete
Small as it is, the sparrow has all the vital organs
A person is a person regardless of size. Complete in every detail
抛砖引
Pāo zhuān yǐn yù [pao zhuan yin yu]
throw brick draw jade
Cast out a brick to invite jade
Modestly allow others to contribute to conversation by making a silly remark
强扭
Qiáng niǔ de guā bù tián [qiang niu de gua bu tian]
energetic seize melon not sweet
A melon taken off its vine is not sweet
Coercion never ends up satisfactorily. Leave things to develop naturally
脸,
Rén yaò liǎn, shù yaò pí [ren yao lian, shu yao pi]
person must have face, tree must have skin
Keeping a good reputation is as essential as bark is to a tree
Reputation ('face') is important to maintain at all costs
随俗
Rù xiāng suí sú [ru xiang sui su]
enter village follow custom
When entering a village, follow its customs
Take account of local people and opinions
When in Rome do as the Romans do
Guangdong, Sun Yatsen
Sun Yatsen Memorial Hall with bronze statue
Shǒu kǒu rú píng [shou kou ru ping]
guard mouth like bottle
To keep mouth shut, like a bottle
To avoid giving the game away; to not breathe a word
See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil
猢狲散
Shù daǒ hú sūn sàn [shu dao hu sun san]
tree fall monkey troupe break up
When a tree falls, the monkeys scatter. When a leader loses power, his followers are disorganized.
An organization needs a strong leader. Chaos results when a leader is deposed.
窝边
Tù zi bù chī wō biān cǎo [tu zi bu chi wo bian cao]
rabbit no eat burrow side grass
Rabbits do not eat the grass around their burrows
Thieves do not steal from neighbors
旁观
Xiù shǒu páng guān [xiu shou pang guan]
sleeve hand side observe
To look on with folded arms
To look on without offering any help or showing concern
shì tóng rén [yi shi tong ren]
one look same benevolence
Everybody treat same kindness
Treat all people the same
Yǐn shuǐ sī yuán [yin shui si yuan]
drink water think source
When drinking water remember the origin
Do not forget the source of your good fortune (particularly parents)
Biting the hand that feeds it
指桑骂槐
Zhǐ sāng mà huái [zhi sang ma huai]
finger mulberry blame locust tree
Point to mulberry tree when the locust tree is to blame
Deliberately deflecting criticism to someone or something else. Often to protect friends or family
China motif
Our proverbs come with lots of information. The modern Chinese characters are followed by the proverb in pinyin. Next, there is a crude character by character transliteration into English, followed by a more accurate English translation. If this is a Chinese proverb alluding to history the meaning may still not be clear in English, so the general meaning follows. Finally some proverbs have fairly direct English equivalents, if so the English proverb is included at the end.

Our translations need improving, so please let us know if you can help.
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Citation information: Chinasage, 'Chinese Proverbs about empathy and consideration for others', last updated 4 Sep 2013, Web, http://www.chinasage.info/proverbconsideration.htm.

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