Direct vs. subtle communication (aka ask culture vs. guess culture, low context vs. high context communication)

Direct communication vs. subtle communication, ask culture vs. guess culture, low context vs. high context: different names for the same two communication styles.

  • In direct communication, it’s always okay to ask and it’s always okay to say no.
  • In subtle communication, it’s polite to be indirect, and being direct is seen as rude.

If you don’t know this is happening (for example, if you’re being direct and you don’t understand why everyone in your family is avoiding you) it can cause huge conflict or misunderstanding, especially because in subtle culture, it’s impolite to directly address the fact that subtle culture exists.

Communication can get wrecked
If you do not know what to expect.
One big havoc-wreaker
Is when one of the speakers
Is subtle, and one is direct.

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