As has been documented by numerous professionals, culture plays a key role during the definition of a particular community or a given group of people. Cultural identity is used in reference to how people from a particular setting lead their lives (Chapter1 4). Culture also greatly influences how people communicate with each other and it is worth notingthat methods of communication vary from one culture to the next. As such, what is deemed acceptable by one culture and community, may notbe necessarily accepted in the other. Culture also plays a significant role in intercultural communication.
Culture as a historically shared system of symbolic resources from which people derive and construct meaning of their worlds. Systems, symbolic resources, and making the world meaningful are the most important aspects of this definition. Every culture found in a community or a society must be made up of a variety of systems through which it functions. The systems may be composed of communication systems, leadership systems, academic systems, and other social systems and they generally help to complete the society.Symbolic resources, on the other hand, are the actualartifacts or features that make a culture unique and they may include the unique dressing cord, practices such as cultural dances and cherished attires, as well as the national flag. People’s view of their world tends to differ and this is shaped by how people in different societies tend to view or think of other people from other societies.
Of high importance is the comprehension of diverse cultures so as to be able to live amicably with people from other cultures. Cultural identity is an element that is brought about when a person comprehends their own culture and this helps the person to also comprehend and appreciate the culture of other people as well. In addition, it promotes the vital art of communication between people who are living in one place but come from different cultures (Chapter1 6). This is why this paper seeks to discover how the culture and social identities of the Taiwanese affect them and their communication behavior.The paper examines the Taiwanese cultural, social, and personal beliefs, values, and norms and how this affects the way the people communicate with others as a result.
Taiwan is a nation that is located in South East Asia and has a population that is composed of Taiwanese, and these are categorized into the Hakka group of people, mainland Chinese, as well as the indigenous people. The Taiwanese possess a unique culture as well as distinct social, and personal beliefs, values, and norms. They have a very rich culture and it has aspects that are both modern and traditional. In Taiwan, Buddhism is the main religion while Chinese mandarin is the main language spoken. This is explained by the origin of most Taiwanese as they come from the Southern Fujianese region. The min-man which is a southern min dialect is yet another widely spoken language(Kwintessential 2014). According to research, some groups have been able to maintain their traditional languages and these include the Hakka group and the aboriginals. There are also a certain faction of the Taiwan population especially those from older generations that can speak Japanese language and this is because the country was originally ruled by Japan.
In addition, before the Chinese seized Taiwan from Japan, this population also received the Japanese system of education. These combination of cultures found in Taiwan has an effect on the way the Taiwanese relate and communicate with each other. The diversity of cultures also has an impact on how the Taiwanese interact with people from different cultures. This paper further discusses the different cultural practices and the type of messages that are conveyed across Taiwan, depending on time, location, and action.
How Taiwanese culture affects communication and behavior
Communication is a technique through which information is transmitted from one person to the other. It can be in many forms including spoken words, written messages as well as actions. In terms of actions, communication can be in different situations and can be through giving gifts, body language, facial expressions, and other actions that may convey unspoken or unwritten meaning (Chapter 3 71). Taiwanese culture has an impact on both cultural and intercultural communication.The country is composed of a diversity of cultures and all these interact with each other on daily basis at different levels hence the communication among Taiwanese is highly dependent on the culture and this is based on the individual’s social norms, beliefs, and how they act.
For instance, the Taiwanese have a common culture that places every person into a given group and in each of the groups, members are expected to respect one another and be humble towards one another. People are expected to live harmoniously with each other and avoid anything that would bring embarrassment to their group (Kwintessential 2014). The Taiwanese essentially believe in being respectful and as such act and speak in a polite manner towards one another. One of the signs of respect that is highly taken into consideration is in terms of greeting between a man and a woman. In this case, the man is expected to always wait for the woman to stretch her hand first as a sign of respect before they can greet them. There are also specific acts and norms that are expected to be observed within the Taiwan culture. These acts and norms form the rules of what should and should not be done within the Taiwan culture in specific situations. One of the rules concerning giving gifts is that one ought not to present a gift bought within the country.
There are also specific cultural, personal norms, values, and beliefs that ought to be observed during the occasions of gifting and one of the beliefs is that number four and any odd numbers are regarded as unlucky. As such, gifts should not be given in fours or odd numbers and neither should they be wrapped in black, white, or blue because these are considered as the mourning colors. There are also certain items that cannot be given as gifts in Taiwan culture because they are mainly associated with death, mourning and funerals. These include sandals made out of straw, cloaks, and handkerchiefs which are mainly linked to deaths and funerals and hence if given as gifts, they can send a bad message in Taiwan culture. Besides gifts, there are also values, norms and rules that are applied when communicating within the Taiwanese culture and this is given an element of respect depending on the people being greeted. For instance, younger person must lower their heads when greeting elderly persons. In the same light, people must also lower their heads when greeting people in higher ranks or persons of authority (Chapter 3 72). The Taiwan culture also deems it very important to address people using their surnames and titles including the professional, honorific as well as the academic status.
There are intercultural communication between the Taiwanese and other cultures especially in the local environment as well as during business negotiations. The people of Taiwan really value “face” or identity, and as such they will always exercise caution and be extra careful with their words during business negotiations in an effort to maintain their identity and good relationships (Chapter4 102). For example, the Taiwanese lean more towards the well-crafted words and always exercise caution when selecting the words to address their business partners. They ensure that the information is carefully crafted within the given context so that it can be delivered in an ideal manner and properly understood. Within this culture, communication mostly takes place through the use gestures, words, and facial expressions.
The Taiwanese have a culture of high respect for one another as well as business associates. This makes them conduct business negotiations and most of their activities in a very respectful manner. Their main aim is to always make the people they encounter or deal with feel respected and honored and this enhances proper communication between Taiwanese and those that relate with them. Furthermore, the citizens of Taiwan are also renowned for their hard working nature, and their value for education and society at large. Majority of the Taiwanese require an education concerning intercultural communication skills, and not because they lack the knowledge about this but just to enable them to understand people from other cultures even more (Chapter4 102). The Taiwanese do not speak directly like people from America and other western cultures, and this may cause them to view such actions as too direct, aggressive, and a little disrespectful.
An education on intercultural methods of communication will enable the Taiwanese to understand people from the cultures that use direct language even more and even understand their cultural identities. In addition, the Taiwanese will know what to expect during their interaction and communication with people from such cultures (Chapter4 103). Globalization has heavily influenced the way that the Taiwanese communicate with people and also shaped their perceptions regarding various other cultures across the world, and in particular the culture of the people they do business and interact with (Pison 8). Globalization has facilitated the migration of many people into Taiwan while at the same time enabling many Taiwanese to also migrate into different parts of the world. These migrations have enabled the Taiwanese to interact and communicate with people from various cultures and consequently learn how to behave around individuals who are not of Taiwan origin.
The culture of Taiwan has influenced how its citizens interact and communicate with one another as well as with people from other cultures by allowing them to choose the genres and words of communication very carefully. Genres are generally defined as the forms or techniques in which an art is performed and they may include songs, dances, poetry, or parties. Different kinds of communication require the use of certain forms of communication (Chapter 3 73). For example, as earlier mentioned above, the Taiwan culture does not appreciate people who are too direct in their communication and as such, the Taiwanese themselves expect people to act with a lot of decorum and respect. Their culture demands that an individual plans their speech with care before delivering it. This therefore makes their communication framework to be carefully planned and well thought out.
Religion in Taiwan is yet another factor that influences communication. Religion also plays a major role on the communication of the Taiwanese both culturally and inter- culturally. Even though Buddhism is the main religion in Taiwan is Buddhism, there are people who practice other religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Taoism among others (McDaniel, Porter, and Samovar 44). The reason why religion has influenced the way Taiwanese communicate with each other and with other cultures because there exists an understanding between the diverse religions in the country. There is a blend between the varied religions in Taiwan, and this fosters harmonious operations among them and as a result, the believers of one religion to understand how another religion works. This has enabled the Taiwanese to learn the beliefs, norms, and practices of another religion besides their own and as such they have acquired a diverse religious identity, and even learnt to respect one another’s religious practices (McDaniel, Porter, and Samovar 44). Different religions dictate the actions and way of life of their members, as well as how they treat and regard one other and towards the rest in the society. For instance, Buddhism expects its members to value life and to be polite toward others and also offer their assistance whenever they can.
From the above discussion, it is possible to comprehend the influence that culture and religion ave over people in terms of how they communicate with each other. The Taiwanese culture has rules and norms regarding the different forms of communication and thus expects people to be polite and respectful when communicating with one another as well as with people from across different cultures. This culture also has norms, practices, values, and beliefs that ought to be considered when doing different things such as giving gifts and this is because each practice carries a different meaning and it is therefore possible for people to pass across different kinds of information to the receivers.
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Chapter 1. What is meant by intercultural communication? P. 4. Print.
Chapter3. How can we learn about our own and other culture? P. 71- 73. Print.
Chapter4. How is culture related to our identity? Pp. 102 – 103. Print.
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McDaniel, Baldwin, Porter, Richard and Samovar, Larry. Intercultural communication: a reader. Belmont, CA: p. 44. 2010. Print.
Pison, R. (Module 2).Globalization and culture.Pp. 6-8. Print.