Uploaded by ashley xin

reflective essay1

This assignment is to show how cultures affect the way of communication
individually. Two 20 years old university students, Chen Yinger from Shanghai, China and
Mita Akie from Tokyo, Japan were chosen as my interviewees. I am interested in the culture
of these two Asian countries and wanted to know about their culture. In this paper, topics
related to verbal communication, conflict management and gender roles will be focused on.
When it comes to verbal communication, the two interviewees and I reacted in the
same way. We will change the way we speak according to the closeness of the relationship.
Instead of telling our real thoughts, we choose to embellish our words when we talk to people
we are not too close with because we do not want them to dislike us and hurt their feelings. It
is quite cruel to tell some of my bad thoughts about them directly. Chen said that she felt
weird to express her real feelings directly to people she was not familiar with. For Akie, she
felt bad to convey her thoughts directly to others because she thought that it was quite a rude
behaviour. She cares about what others think of her. This showed that we are from high
context cultures which emphasize long term good relationship. However, we communicate
with our family and friends whom we familiar with in a direct way so that they can clearly
know what we think and feel to avoid misunderstanding. When we stay with our family and
friends, Akie and I felt comfortable while Chen felt safe. This has showed that we also belong
to low context cultures which emphasize true opinions.
Besides, we use the same communicate style which is self-effacement mode when we
receive someone’s compliment since we have been grown up in a society that considered
modesty as a virtue. We use verbal restraints and modest talks in response to others’ praises
instead of accepting them with pleasure since we emphasize on harmony and hierarchy. Chen
and I think that being humble will not offend others easily. Akie said that being self-effacing
will be considered as a polite behaviour for others. This has proved that we are from
collectivistic cultures which promote social harmony within group.
When discussing conflict, three of us shared the same opinions: we do not like it
because it is not a good thing. This has applied the theory that Asian from high context
cultures considered conflict as a negative thing and will try to avoid it as much as possible.
For me, conflict is so annoying and can ruin my mood for the whole day. For Chen, she
thought that conflict was an extremely tired thing. For Akie, she thought that conflict would
worsen her relationship with others. However, the ways we managed the inevitable conflict
were different.
I belong to the accommodate style in daily conflict management because my parents
always teach me to have high concern for others. I will give in to others’ reasonable demands
as long as they will be happy for my sacrifice. This has applied the theory that Asian
considered accommodate style is good and female usually uses accommodate style in conflict
management. But when it comes to work, I use the collaboration style to solve the conflict
because I want to have the best outcome. I believe that good work will only be created if
everyone is concerned about others, so does teamwork. Chen uses compromise style to
manage the conflict because she cares about herself and others. She will find a middle ground
to solve the conflict so that everyone’s need can be meet. But when conflict happens between
the elders of her family, she will use avoidance style by not stepping in because Chinese has a
belief that younger does not step into the elder’s conflict. The style of conflict management
Akie uses is avoidance, which is same with one of the styles Chen uses. Akie will walk away
from any conflict to avoid confrontation and to keep good relationship with others. This has
demonstrated that high context cultures practice avoidance style in conflict management.
When talking about gender issue, three of us thought that the problem of gender
inequality still occurs in our respective countries though the situation now is much better than
the past. For example, Chen’s and my grandparents prefer a boy than a girl because Asian
believes that men are superior to women in terms of society and family especially the older
generation. Chen felt frustrated towards this situation because she encouraged gender equality.
Akie said that currently there are still power differences and inequality at workplace as more
men are in companies’ important position like CEO because the older generation in Japan
looks down upon women in the workforce. This has applied the theory that high context
countries endorse high power distance cultures. Akie said that it was unfair to fire some
career women who were pregnant due to the view that women should be a good housewife
rather than studying or working.
Chen, Akie and I have totally different opinions on gender role. I believed that there
was no gender role because everyone is free to do whatever they want in this new era. I think
that women can start up business and men can even take care of the child as long as both
sides are willing to do so. Chen thinks that men are like a slave for women by helping them to
carry their handbags and personal belongings because men in Shanghai are quite obeyed to
whatever women said. She thinks that women are like a successful career person because
women nowadays become more financial independence and show good abilities in the
workplace. This has showed that Chen and I are not high context person. Akie considered
achievement and money were important and she said the role of men was more likely to earn
money and protect the safety of his family while the role of women was to assist and support
their men. This showed that Akie is from high context country that emphasizes masculinity
cultures which clearly distinct gender roles. Akie also thinks that men are like a leader while
women are like an assistant under the influence of Japan’s deep-rooted belief that men are
breadwinners, women are homemakers.
Having said these, the styles my interviewees and I used for verbal communication
and conflict management have a deep connection with culture, environment and our own
perception. Also, these factors have affected our opinions about gender issues. For this reason,
sometimes we shared the same thoughts but sometimes we do not. From the interviews, I
realized that Chen has high and low context characteristics while Akie is more likely a high
context people. But I think that I can conduct a better interview if I am more well-prepared
with the questions and lead the interviewees to give out better answers. From this assignment,
I have explored that why I behave and communicate in such way and learned that lack of
cultures knowledge is a disadvantage for me. Moreover, the challenges I have faced are how
to construct good interview questions that can produce a good context for this essay as well
as how to analyze the content well.