Avoiding Cultural Misunderstandings  文化誤解面面觀

James Baron




When living or traveling in a foreign country, you'll likely come across cultural differences. It's a good idea to understand these differences to avoid doing or saying the wrong things.



Some cultural misunderstandings involve verbal communication. For example, in Taiwan and Japan, people are expected to be humble when they talk about themselves in social and work settings. However, in the United States, it's normal for a person to boast about his or her own abilities in order to get them noticed. Therefore, if you're applying for a job in the States, don't hesitate to stress your achievements.



Other differences involve body language. In East Asia, avoiding someone's eyes while speaking to him or her seems respectful, but to a Westerner, it could suggest dishonesty. Similarly, a weak handshake is fine in Chinese or Japanese culture but may imply a lack of character to Americans and Europeans.



The use of hands can also cause misunderstandings. The thumbs-up sign indicates a job well done in the West but can be an insult in parts of the Middle East. In the West, sticking up your middle finger is an offensive gesture, but in Vietnam the middle finger is often used to point at things.



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