Wednesday, February 23, 2011

NT Planet: How To Say No Around The World

As we may know - in fact as many of us do know since Aspies are sometimes especially interested in other countries - different cultures have different ways of saying "no". Americans are (as a group) significantly more direct than, for example, East Asians (ditto). (Having lived in Beijing, I can attest to this.) In fact, even among English speakers we Americans tend to be more direct.

Iris tells us of a friend of hers, "Bill," staying in Japan, whose major issue there is Japanese people's vaunted inability to say "no". For example, when he wanted to look at a house (to further his architectural interests), he asked permission of the owners through a mutual friend - and was told that the owners "are busy for the entire year"!

Iris points out that Americans say "no" indirectly as well - the difference is that Americans might be more creative with excuses, whereas Japanese people saying in effect "We're busy for the entire year" are more transparent.

In other words, maybe Americans say "no" so well others - including NTs - may not even know they're being told "no". People may really believe the excuse (eg, having a screening to go to) and figure there's an actual problem and the other person would love to say "yes" but for the problem. (Beyond a certain point, that can cause problems too.)

Meanwhile, feel free to check out the comments to Iris' post for a look at how Chinese, Koreans and even French may say "no". (NB: A bit of the language there is NSFW.)

What do you think?

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