Body-language and nonverbal communication

Interrupting Communication 2

Interrupting Communication 2

To begin with: Between China and western countries I think there is a big and important difference in living feelings, (cognitive) demands, (self-) control, a relationship and love. A difference which produces a lot irritation, disappointment, sadness, anger, hope and felling lost on the one hand or dependent on the other.

A week ago a friend of mine told me about his experience when the communication between his Chinese girl-friend and him was interrupted in a way which he could not understand and follow. They had had a relationship for say about one and a half years and they had been really in love with each other. After the relationship broke, they decided to go on being good friends but without a love-friendship. Both agreed ……………..and both were convinced that this was a good decision, they wanted to live.

For months they stayed in contact on this emotional agreement and it seemed that they could live on it and trust on it.

So now and then he reported to me that while they had a love-relationship, he got already familiar with the way of interrupting the communication. In those days he could feel accustomed with this experience in so far as both could talk about it and they had a good emotional base to cope with this phenomenon.

Now, after they had broken the love-relationship (after several months already) he met her to have some dinner with her. Both, as he told me, still felt very intimate feeling for each other and both reinforced their conviction of being important for one another. The moment he asked her for some feedback, I can’t remember on what, but it was quite important for him and so difficult to manage or to handle.

But by talking about this aspect he felt his sadness and disappointment, she didn’t answer at all, did not give him the feedback she had promised to do, there was just silence, no contact, no relationship, no communication.

A week later, they met again, had some dinner and it was a wonderful evening being together on a good relationship-level.

He could not handle this big discrepancy. That’s why he told her about his fantasies on the relationship and talked about his doubts remembering her promise that he would be of so big importance to her. He said that he could not believe it anymore and that he wanted to stop the communication to her.

Right away and by that he felt hope again, when he talked about it to me, she answered and expressed her astonishment about his decision. Again she reinforced her conviction with the words: “You’re so important to me that I don’t want to lose your friendship in all my life”

But, at the same time, she explained in a quite different manner that she had to work hard, that she had to study, that she had to arrange many things in her life andsoon…. He, that means my friend, should wait for another two or three months for an answer, for a feedback, for some reaction.

My friend got mixed up with the feelings, his wishes, his commitment together with her. Quite clearly he realized that she as a Chinese student and project manager was dependent on her boss, to the necessity to learn for the exams, dependent on all demands from outside, her family andsoon. And it had seemed, that the emotional level, the relationship level did not have any importance to her anymore.

My friend, very astonished, could not believe this, because he told me, he could understand her situation but just sometimes “needed” a little e-mail to reinforce the commitment both had made. He said, how can it be so difficult to write an e-mail to me which last perhaps five or ten minutes, when she knows that exactly this step will be sufficient to make him feel  save and let her go her own way doing the exams, doing her job and so on.

My friend got stuck between the Chinese habit to the demands from outside and cutting of all emotional and relational aspects, in order to fulfill these demands.

It seemed to me that she could not do both at the same time.

She could not handle such an ambivalence.

He, at the same time, began to doubt about any hope or believe in intercultural communication any more. He felt that she was clung to the demands from the outer world and he and the western was more clung to emotional aspects, and also follow all these demands which derived from the study, the job andsoon.

Both seemed to be incompatible.

I want to take this little story as another example for the phenomenon I talked about some weeks ago: I call it the interrupted communication. To me it seems that Chinese probably need some save structure, some save context where they do not have to think much about emotional aspects and communication on the relationship level. And at the same time feel emotional safe, just by being there in this context. Being in such a state, helps them to fulfill what the world demands from them and their own demands.

Many people from the western countries live both:  demands and relationship-level. Cognition, self-control, self-reflection and emotions. The one aspect of life does not work without the other.

And it seems to me that the wish to reinforce a once made commitment in the Chinese culture  is successful by not “neglecting” a broad, emotionally faced communication. All senses are open to studying, work, control and all effort is put on studying, doing the exams, trying to fulfill the companies demands and so on.

Feelings, wishes and relational aspects are projected to the future, made in a childlike hope, that the world, the context, will accept this. It seems to me, that Chinese in so far cannot imagine that things will turn to another direction, if they aren´t open to shown and communicated feelings, self-reflection and talking about it

To me it seems also that western people, even if they want to do a good study, a good exam, a good job, try to avoid neglecting their emotions and the relationship to important people, friends and partners. At least they try more or less successfully.

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