From my personal experience, I perceive one of the differences between Asian people and Western people when my friends and I leaved from Thailand and have been studying in international program in Sweden. That is the way to communicate with other people. Most Asian people, especially Thais, prefer to speak indirectly, more formal, compromise. This is because we want to save the other’s face. In Thailand, it is a good manner to avoid conflict and argument during face to face communication. Therefore Thais tend to give positive feedback to other people and not to deal with conflict directly. In case that we need to provide some negative feedbacks to others, Thais will speak as gentle as possible. In contrast, most Western people prefer to speak frankly, right to the point and appreciate to get feedback from listeners whether positive or negative feedback. My Swedish classmates told me that Swedes get used to with sharing opinions in the meeting, questioning in the class, thinking out of the box and seeing thing in the other way.
This can be one of the big differences between Asian and Western people. The conflict may happen if we are lack of realization in high and low context culture. For example, I had a meeting with group members which consist of Russian, Thai, German, Swedish and Austrian. In the first meeting, our group members had discussed about the project whereas I only listened them until the end of meeting session. I was so surprised because they speak frankly towards how they felt whereas I always said ‘YES’ or nodded my head, even though, I did not agree with them. That is because I tend to agree with the majority of the group. Moreover, I had no chance to interfere their conversations and no one questioned to me or asked for my opinions. I expected that they would understand me and ask for my opinions after the discussion. Until the second meeting, we conducted group performing evaluation and found that our group concerned about task rather than group process. Then we decided to provide feedbacks to each member in our group. Everyone in group gave feedbacks to me that I was shy to share my opinion but the fact is I was not used to discuss and share my ideas contrast to others. After many feedbacks given, all team members decided to concern more about group process by asking for the opinions from all members before making a decision. I also learn to adapt myself to work with the multinational team by sharing my opinions and communicating with teammates more. According to I came from high context culture, sometimes I still afraid that my opinion will hurt other’s feeling. Many times, my friends perceived that I spoke unclear. They might be dissatisfied with my answers. They often asked me to ensure that I really replied what my thought is.
This shows that in business we may have no chance to get or give feedback to our business partners or our counterparties so awareness and understanding of intercultural communication is very important for businessman to be aware of and practice to enhance their intercultural competence. Most ideas about intercultural communication were linked to national culture. That is because we talk about possibility and majority of people in the same country. However ‘sometimes people inside a nation could be more different from each other than people across culture’ (Samovar & Porter & Jain 1981).