Guess – Taiwanese Preference of Communication

Amy wrote, “The Taiwanese value indirect communication and they don’t spell out everything. It is believed that words can be inadequate and insufficient and the listener is given (hopefully) enough information to interpret and infer the unspoken meaning. Meanings often reside in unspoken messages, and requests are often implied. Consequently, many Taiwanese do not ‘ask’ or make direct requests. Instead they wait and expect the recipient to ponder and realize the underlying message delivered. Recipients are then expected to reply or react based on the interpreted message.

Consequently, reading between the lines is an important skill to learn in understanding the true meaning of a message. Furthermore, nonverbal communication such as facial expressions, body movements and pauses often provides useful clues in communication.”

I believe Amy Liu, because I’m living what she wrote above. Amy was our cross-cultural trainer when we first moved here. She is native Taiwanese who immigrated with family to the U.S. when she was 13. Now she is working in Taipei helping people like us. This quote is from her book, Taiwan A to Z, the Essential Cultural Guide.

Every time I take the bus, I hear people (more women than men) talking agitatedly about so and so who didn’t do this and that. These must be senders of unspoken messages; those who are being talked about obviously have not figured out the underlying meaning.

A Taiwanese colleague stopped writing to me all together. I am guessing every day what she is telling me. It gets really tiresome when you have to guess, and guess, and guess some more. Having my Chinese appearance does me more harm than good, because people expect me to know. 

Just tell me, I can handle the truth.


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