Essay, Pages 3 (527 words)
Verbal communication and non-verbal communication are two ways of communication between human beings. Verbal communication is important and has a significant influence on human behavior, meanwhile, non-verbal communication should not be ignored. Silence is one aspect of non-verbal communication.
It can also express our ideas and convey information. People from different cultures have different understandings of silence. In order to reach successful intercultural communication, different cultural connotations of silence should be known. In the video, it shows that Japanese people highly value silence as a fundamental form of non-verbal communication.
Silence may be a virtue, but when it comes to the workplace, silence can be more complicated and difficult to interpret. It can imply consent or acceptance of an initiative. In Japan, when the Japanese superior are speaking or put forward some proposals, the inferior just keeps silent to show their respect to the superior. However, for western culture, it may be a signal of problems in a team or workplace, and a red flag that managers ignore at their peril.
In class, Japanese students are just the audience. Silence is a form of respect for others. They usually listen to the teachers quietly. They seldom participate in the activities in class, let alone proposing their own opinions, asking questions to their teachers or offending their classmates.
Silence in Japan has very many similarities from my culture. Generally speaking, silence is used in most situations in Chinese culture, thus the attitude of Chinese towards silence is positive. Chinese people emphasize the functions of silence in their communication.
In Chinese people’s communication, pause and silence can express plenty of meanings, such as agreement, praise, disagreement, protest, decision, respect, etc. When Chinese people talk with strangers, they will not break the ice, for them to think that it will be embarrassed to talk with someone that they don’t know at all.
Silence in American Culture. In contrast, Americans’ attitude towards silence is negative. In most situations, Americans tend to consider silence in communication as indifference, anger, shame, disgust, embarrassment, disagreement, etc. They cannot bear those who always keep silent. They cannot understand what conveys from silence. Americans tend to explain their thoughts clearly and like to talk with each other. They try to bridge the gap of silence in their communication with words so that they would not feel embarrassed. The forms of silence are similar in various cultures, but the differences in its cultural effect bring barriers to intercultural communication. In conclusion, Americans usually neglect the messages that are transmitted by silence. Even if they realize the existence of silence, they always have a negative attitude to silence and understand it by their own cultural rules. This pragmatic mistransference is the crucial factor of the failure of intercultural communication. The emphasis on the function of silence does not mean the denial of the communicative function of language. Silence and speech are mutual complements and relative factors. The ignorance of one of them could lead to misunderstanding or failure in communication.
Successful communication requires us not only to get information from speech but also to understand what is conveyed by silence, because sometimes “silence is more golden than speech.”