Is China a High Context Culture? Agree Or Disagree

Don’t Waste Your Time! Facts to Know about Chinese Culture are Here: 

China is considered a high context culture where people communicate through a range of phrases along with body language/ facial expressions like gestures, silence, and eye contact that can convey more powerful messages than the verbal responses. 

What is High Context Culture?

High and Low Context

High-context culture gives importance to the implicit aspects rather than explicit terms. Sometimes it is more prominent, while sometimes, it is too subtle to understand. Visitors need to give importance to the context in China. Otherwise, there will be a chance of misinterpretation, perplexity, and even dispute.  

Characteristics of High Context Culture

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The most prominent characteristics of high context culture is non-verbal communication, while for low context culture, it is obvious to have verbal and written communication. 

However, there are some other characteristics also. In this context, we will discuss those topics also. 

  • Rely on non-verbal communication and use body language and facial expression to express themselves to others, such as eye contact and tone of voice. 
  • Implicit words and inner meanings are more important than the actual words that are communicated. 
  • Feeling comfortable in their community or race of people 
  • Prefer to solve the problems rather than blaming others 
  • Members of the culture place emphasis on interpersonal relationships. 

Facial Expression or GUANXI

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Chinese people always give their preference to Face-to-face feedback. At the same time, the sender needs to provide the correct responses, and the receiver needs to understand and realize the correct meaning by observing their body language, such as facial expressions or gestures. 

Fond of Similarity

 

 

Similarity

 

 

In a high-context culture, similarity is an essential characteristic because the

majority of the population in high context cultures typically have the same level of education, as well as a shared ethnicity, religion, and history. 

Though Chinese people from different ethnicities share many common cultural traits, at the same time there, they have variations in their culture, way of communication, etiquette, and even in their actions also. 

Being Connected with a Harmony

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Chinese people give exceptional value to personal relationships and connectedness. Chinese deal with their familiar ones, so they are always pursuing developing and nurturing their relationships with those with whom they have already connected. 

They do believe in long-term relationships, which does not end at all. They esteem their respect toward all who have a similar social status and tend to define themselves as a unit rather than single, reflecting their foundational value of group harmony. 

Oral Feedback

 

 

Using oral feedback to compliment written feedback - World leading higher  education information and services

 

 

The Chinese do not blame another person for having committed an error. Rather, they deal with the problem in a way that causes no harm to their reputation or embarrasses them. 

They always want face-to-face feedback privately through conversation and negotiation in place of contradiction in front of others. Loss of face can cause serious damage to relationships, both personal and public. 

Generally, high-context cultures prefer oral communication as their written communication is more likely to cause misunderstanding because it lacks the purpose of face-to-face communication. 

In oral communication, both the sender and receiver can read the facial expression and understand the reaction to the feedback. This implies that the message’s content is interpreted, and the context or situation in which the message delivers is also depicted. 

In this context, some characteristics define the Chinese concept of face-to-face communication:

Agreement (Yes/No) or Disagreement

(No/Yes): 

Say Yes or No???

In Chinese culture, the high-ranking officials are always intended to be higher than the subjugates. At the same time, the latter one doesn’t want to bother the former with basic/detailed questions as it is believed that it may cause annoyance or express their incapability. 

If they say “yes,” its actual meaning is that they have insufficient ideas on that topic which may cause hamper and create obstacles in performing the task. On the other hand, the subordinates will always be grateful to their higher for having positive feedback. 

Still, they should nod their head and dodge the compliment to demonstrate their decency and simplicity. 

To make a good impression on their superior, they need to avoid saying ‘yes’ or agreeing with the compliment as it might be considered arrogant and conceited. 

‘No’ at all

The Chinese use no through a range of phrases, but the goal of a Chinese speaker is to remain humble and always a concern for everyone involved in a discussion or meeting.

They intend to pick up some alternatives to show their reluctance rather than saying no straight-forward. The Chinese are much more interested in friendly communication, which helps them to form long-term relationships. 

This means the Chinese try to avoid the word no because it seems to deteriorate the overall relationship with the speaker.

Accept or Refuse?

Accept or refuse stock illustration. Illustration of guidepost - 46964536

The Chinese usually do not receive a gift at the time of being presented for the first time as hastily receiving something seems to be a wrong manner or rudeness

in Chinese culture. 

For them, one should take a gift after politely refusing it two or three times as it reflects the person’s modesty. Also, they don’t unwrap the gifts in front of the giver as it thinks to be some kind of aggressiveness. 

Silence to Avoid Strong Displays of Emotion:

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In China, much communication goes along delicate motions, facemask expressions, and voice tenors in ways that visitors may not even notice and understand. 

Sometimes it happens that someone who is unknown to their customs and culture doesn’t realize them or get their facial expressions, and the Chinese who are accustomed to understanding each of them without even any verbal communication don’t get the point of the visitors’ hesitance. 

There might have so many interpretations, but Chinese people tend to be silent sometimes to keep themselves away from negative feelings, which disrupt the balance. However, this is not always true. 

As the Chinese have Confucianism’s solid and lasting influence, they always believe in group harmony, which means to be known to the known. 

As a result, in terms of communicating with foreigners or visitors, they need some time to understand the speaker, or they are pausing as a sign of respect to the speaker.

They tend to leave some things to the imagination rather than explaining in detail and prefer subtlety and tact to frankness and fact. 

Privacy Maintain

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The Chinese tend to maintain their privacy for which they are not interested in discussing their personal affairs with others, especially with an unfamiliar person, while people from low context cultures may ask personal questions as a way of showing their care and interest in others, they don’t find this invasive of their privacy. 

Traditional Etiquette

Pupils learn traditional Han-style etiquette in C China[1]-  Chinadaily.com.cn

There are some other ways of interactions that also seem very normal for the Chinese people in any social gathering or program where they are much more likely to want to please others which is very offensive in other cultures.

For example, at a party, the organizer may order the same food for everyone as they have the belief in togetherness, and it seems a kind of hospitability for him for his guest while someone from another culture may find that this manner goes against their sense of individual will.

They may feel controlled and disturbed because individuality seems to be a symbol of independence in some cultures, unlike the Chinese.

In the Chinese culture, there consists of several courses on how to welcome their guest or visitors and, side by side, how to entertain them. 

Social hierarchy is also maintained in seating arrangements. The seats no 2nd, 4th, and 6th on the left side of the table are used to be the seat of honorable guests and same also on the 3rd, 5th, and 7th number seats of the right side. 

The guest of the lowest position sits far from the seat of the honorable guests. Unlike In another culture, here exceptional food is served according to the Local’s specialty like Roast Duck in Beijing, Braised Lion’s Head meatballs in Shanghai, Dim Sum in Guangzhouand Beer Fish in Guilin.

Foods are served for all kinds of people like vegetarians, religious taboos, or particular choices. The portions of meat dishes and vegetable dishes are balanced. Foods get priority which can be easily handled by chopstick. 

All the dishes are placed in the center of the round table from where guests of the table share food. There is a rule that each has to wait till another gets a sufficient quantity of dish. 

Conclusion

High-Context Cultureis fascinating, and at the same time, it is often complicated and confusing. Anyone who visits China must have experienced its complexity. 

Thus, it often depends on to whom and in which situation you do communicate with them.

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