Contexting and Face-Saving

In low context cultures, directness is a virtue. Just the opposite is true in high context cultures.

When children are learning how to talk, they are also learning about one of the fundamentals of social interaction, how to talk with someone.

One thing they learn is that certain understandings and assumptions are shared by people in the same culture. For example, American children are taught to say thank you to family members for even small routine favors, while Chinese children are taught not to. To thank your sibling or spouse every time he or she hands you a pencil or passes you the salt conveys affection and warmth to Americans, but coldness and formality to the Chinese.

Cultures differ, though, in how ...

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