Communication Styles – Directness versus Indirectness
As westerners, we tend to be fairly direct. Filipinos tend to be indirect and/or evasive. We tend to speak, and ask. Filipinos tend to observe and say little. We tend to confront. Filipinos tend to avoid confrontation, and they tend to tolerate more. We like to get to the bottom of things and thrash things out. Filipinos prefer to smile and laugh things off. Therefore we have an instant set of differences. We want to confront issues head-on, and this is often totally unfamiliar to Filipinos and can appear to them rude or even scary.
A friend just pointed out to me that Filipinos are often indirect because they try very hard not to cause offense. This is natural in an interdependent society where people depend on one another. So it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Yet Filipinos need to also be aware that westerners regard directness and honesty as being one and the same. Your intention may be to be tactful and not to cause offense, but that may be interpreted as evasiveness, dishonesty and an unwillingness to address and fix problems, ie. weak, irresponsible and spineless. You need to learn to see the intentions behind a westerner’s directness. It is rarely an attempt to cause offense, particularly in a marriage situation. Try to look at the meaning behind the behaviour, rather than to judge the behaviour by the standards of your own culture.