Taiwanese Communication Styles

Taiwan:

Communication in Taiwan can be difficult if one does not speak Mandarin Chinese (the official language) or Taiwanese, a southern Fujian dialect which is widely spoken. Levels of English (and other major languages) will be patchy even within Taiwanese multi-nationals and major MNC's based in the country. Within the bulk of small to medium-sized businesses, little or no English at all will be spoken. It may, therefore, be necessary to employ the use of a translator, which will further slow down an already tardy process. Be prepared for the inevitable delays and confusions.

As in many Asian cultures, language is rarely used in an absolutely literal fashion. Much of what is actually meant can be hidden behind a smoke screen of vagueness and coded language. It is impolite and disrespectful to disagree openly and therefore anything other than an unequivocal 'yes' should be viewed with some wariness. Probe for further information, go back to the subject later in the meeting and use flip charts, diagrams etc. to aid mutual comprehension.

Unlike Japan, it is not unknown for meetings to become heated, with emotions erupting and then subsiding quickly. It is best to try to ignore this lack of reserve and avoid referring back to it in an attempt to score points. This could result in 'loss of face' and a fracture in the relationship.
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