Every Friday morning I have a 'Design Studies' lecture. Last Friday Jonathan Baldwin was telling us that a lot of our communication is redundant. We add words and phrases that are not necessary. We do this out of habit and to try to ensure we don't offend or our message is not misinterpreted.
He then went on to say that in China the more direct you are the more it shows you are on the same level as the person you are talking to. So if you wanted to annoy someone in China or act superior the more words you use the better, the opposite for us here in the U.K.
This lecture made me think of when I was in Hong Kong a few years ago. I remember thinking that the shop assistants were very rude, now I realise (or I'm hoping) it was just because that's how they communicate.
My boyfriend was born in Northern Ireland and brought up there but his parents are from Hong Kong. Every time he goes home to visit he asks me, "Am I fat? My mum just told me I'm fat." But now I can tell him your mum's not being rude she's being polite... and you're not fat! I'm not sure he'll believe me though.