If you are from European or American country and working in Japan, you may think sometimes (or everyday)
“Why do Japanese people speak in hard to understand way?”
“I do not know unless you talk more directly!”
High Context Culture
Do you know the concept of “High Context Culture” and “Low Context Culture”? This is a concept advocated by Mr. Edward T. Hall, a cultural anthropologist in the 1970s, which represents the characteristics of communication styles in the country and region. It means the difference between the styles of communication, whether to place emphasis on words (low context) or place emphasis on meaning other than words (high context).
First, high-context culture refers to a culture whose communication depends greatly on the context (context, background) such as sense of values and sensation. The context includes body language and voice tones that are not included in spoken words or written words themselves, sometimes even the position and position of speakers and authors. Japanese is a typical example. According to Mr. Hall, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and South America are regarded as areas with high context culture. In these countries, expressions that they brought around rather than directly are preferred.
Conversely, low context culture is a culture in which communication is done almost through language and grammar is clear and unambiguous. North America and Western Europe are low-context cultures, and English is said to be the lead. In these areas, it is not necessary to express formal words or decorated expressions, and it is preferable to describe the problem and its solution briefly in language. Also, the recipient tends to understand only the contents expressed in the language literally.
In this way, trends are divided depending on country or language depending on high context or low context. Japanese in the high-context cultural area will work with Americans in the low-context cultural area, “If you are Japanese, it is natural to listen to 1 by listening to 1 but you understand only 1 for Americans There is sometimes heard blur like “Do not do it”, but this is due to the fact that the style of communication itself is different.
Japanese feel rude in straight and straight expressions
Japanese is the most high-context category among languages around the world, and euphemism is preferred. From ancient times, euphemistic (indirect and difficult to understand) sentences have been said to be “beautiful”.
There will be a background that Japanese people are “single ethnic” compared to other countries.
Culture is together, so on the premise that the way of interpretation is also together, such euphemism is preferred, and until then it did not cause any problems.
For example, in Japanese it is very rude to say to fat person “You are getting fat”. (Well it doesn’t matter if you say it to your close friend.) It will be the expression “You maybe like to eat” or “You are big”
It’s funny but I think it is very troublesome and complicated unless you are accustomed to a high-context culture in that you have to think “What you really want to say?”
Points of differences which may appear in business sentences
How does the difference between the two appear on the sentences? In the high-context cultural area, the document is created on the premise that the reader already understands the background and the context, it will not touch in detail. Therefore, those who have read the document for the first time may have difficulty understanding the prerequisite contents.
On the other hand, in the context of low-context culture, there is a tendency that readers interpret what is written in a document literally instead of thinking extra things such as whether readers of different cultures will interpret differently . If you say in the context of low-context culture, say “Read line spacing” and so on, say “Where is it written?”
In particular, in the case of a document like a contract, the description created by a person in a high-context culture may be omitted from the idea that it will naturally be understood without saying anything, so low Humans in the context culture will understand the contract contents under different preconditions and it may become a problem. On the contrary, when a person of high context culture reads a document created by a person of low-context culture, it is described in excessively breathable words or straight expressions, so there is a possibility that it may be regarded as a rude document taken into consideration.
In this globalization era, Japanese need to learn direct expression
So when you work in Japan, do you have to get used to high-context culture? In the business of this era of globalization, it is NO.
When you work with people of various backgrounds, if the interpretation of that word is different, it will be a big problem. If you are working in Japan and getting irritated by the obscure way of saying, you are expected to have a role to change it.
Because Japanese do not realize that they are talking in a hard way to understand without context. Please suggest that “Does this mean this? Let’s talk simple.” Although it may be troublesome for you.