Thursday, September 23, 2010

Blame it on Confucious: Why the West and the Far East Miscommunicate

Westerners do not, fundamentally, live according to Confucious' beliefs.  They do not believe that Harmony should be preserved at almost all costs.  In contrast, people from the Far East value the preservation of Harmony, which may require indirect speaking to others, even if there is disagreement.  The result?  Speaking indirectly is seen by those with a Confucian background as a skill of a person who knows how to preserve Harmony. 

To a Westerner, this speaking indirectly is seen as lying
It really is simple as that:  what Easterners see as a skill, Westerners see as lying.  That is a pretty large difference, I'd say.

You can read academic papers written about this (people have gotten their PhDs writing dissertations about this), but if you understand this one simple concept, then you can understand how/why there are misunderstanding between people from the Far East and the West.  When a person from Korea or China or Japan speaks with an indirect style, he/she is trying to preserve Harmony.  However, Westerners are more likely to understand that the speaker is unwilling to address the situation, and is "talking in circles." 

So, right from the beginning, you can see the obvious conflict.  This is the fundamental hurdle that must be crossed in order for the East and West to understand each other.

Future posts will offer some particular language that can be used that both can understand each other....


Post a Comment