Directness and Indirectness in Different Contexts

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 15 November 2016

Directness and Indirectness in Different Contexts

In modern life, people communicate with others in different ways; for instance, the way that directness or indirectness can affect the success or failure of communication. So, we wonder which way is better for human communications. The definition of directness is the character of being accurate in course or aim or straightforwardness , the quality of being clear, plain, or easy to understand . The definition of indirectness is not said or done in a clear and direct way or stating what a real or supposed original speaker said with changes in wording that conform the statement grammatically to the sentence in which it is included .

Speakers use a different register when speaking to different people, such as children, elderly people, peers, superiors, friends, strangers. So , when people talk to each other, they should consider the context, the situation, and then use the right way to communicate.. Position or social status is an important element of choosing whether directness or indirectness. When in a superior position, people tend to use more directness to their inferiors ,by contrast, people use indirect way when they are in a lower or subordinate position. Subordinates usually are more mitigated—polite, tentative or indirect.

For example, in a company, as employees, they have to talk to their boss indirectly and politely; even their boss make mistakes, they cannot indicate directly if they do not want be laid off. Otherwise, bosses just talk to the employees directly. But the ones in power had the option of choosing which style to use. It was precisely because of his higher status that the boss was free to choose whether to speak formally or informally, to assert his power or to play it down and build rapport—an option not available to the subordinate, who would have seemed cheeky if she had chosen a style that enhanced friendliness and closeness.

In this spirit, if your boss request you something with indirectness,you should not only get the real meaning but also you should manage it, or you may in trouble. Another reason that affects communication is how people related to each other, or social distance, those who have closer relations tend to talk in a more direct way. For instance, they can talk to their parents directly anytime; talking directly is much better to parents; as a result, children should be honest to their parents. Moreover, as a close friend, they also need be honest to each other, so talk directly is a right way to them.

When their close friends make any fault, as close friends, they should indicate directly; that is a good way for both of them. On the other hand, people need to talk to their in-laws indirectly; moreover, people should be also respect to elder people. When in a special circumstances, or in emergency, people must use direct way of speaking, otherwise it will cause serious consequences, such as the conversations between the co-pilot and the captain in the text. If people in a urgent situation, they should speak directly even they are subordinates.

If not, the superior one would more likely to ignore hints from their crew members than the other way around. The use of indirectness can hardly be understood without the cross-cultural perspective. Communication in any culture is a matter of indirectness. Only a part of meaning resides in the words spoken; the largest part is communicated by hints , assumptions , and audience filling-in from context and prior experience. Americans as a group tend to ignore or even rail against indirectness. For Japanese, Arabian, or the Mediterraneans, “small talk” is big and essential in business dealings.

Non-Americans, and American women, more often realize that much of what is meant cannot be said outright. Cross-culturally it becomes a maddening guessing game that most entrants lose. Cultural differences in listening behavior can be categorized as direct or indirect. In direct listening cultures such as France, Germany, and the United States, people listen primarily for facts and concrete information. Listeners in these cultures also confront speakers directly and feel comfortable asking questions.

In indirect listening cultures such as Finland, Japan, and Sweden, people listen in a very different manner. Interruptions do not occur while the speaker is talking, and politeness is part of the listener’s behavior. Indirect messages allow you to express your desire with-out offending or insulting the one interacting with you, but often at the sacrifice of your own feeling. Instead of saying,“ I am bored with the conversation, “ you say , “ It’s getting late and I have to get up early tomorrow, “ or you look at your watch and pretend to be surprised by the time.

Instead of saying , “ This food tastes horrible ,”you say ,“ This food tastes different . “ Instead of saying ,“ You look terrible in this dress ,“ you are likely to say ,“ I like the dress you wore yesterday. ” However, different people have different ideas; some people think that talking directly can show the point clearly ; and others think that being indirect can be much more polite; otherwise, they think that talking directly is rude to people.

The ways that talking directly or indirectly are very important in our life. People should use these properly. These two systems can affect the communication success or failure. And sometimes the different culture also will affect the way that people talk directly or indirectly. Nevertheless, different situations and relationship are two of the most important effects. Therefore, learning how to use a right way to communicate to each other is a very important part in our life.


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  • University/College: University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 15 November 2016

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