Hong Kong Culture

Communication

Verbal

  • Silence: Silence is an important and purposeful tool used in Asian communication. Pausing before giving a response indicates that someone has applied appropriate thought and consideration to the question. This signifies politeness and respect.
  • Laughter: Hong Kongers tend to laugh more softly than they speak.
  • Refusals: A Hong Kongers preoccupation with saving {face} and politeness means that they will seldom give a flat ‘no’ or negative response, even when they do not agree with you. Therefore, focus on hints of hesitation. Listen closely to what they say, but also pay careful attention to what they don’t say and implicitly mean.
  • Indirect Communication: The Hong Kongese communication pattern is less direct and verbose than what Australians are used to but is still bolder than other Asian communication styles. Speech is ambiguous with understatements often made. The purpose of this is to maintain harmony throughout the conversation and prevent a loss of {face} on either end of the exchange. The best way of navigating this rhetoric to find the underlying meaning is to check for clarification several times with open-ended questions.
  • Voices: Hong Kongers tend to speak very loudly on the phone. However, it is generally considered impolite to speak with raised voices.


Non-Verbal

  • Personal space: Chinese Hong Kongers tend to stand close together when talking.
  • Touching: Hong Kongers are generally reserved in their physical contact. As the population density is so high, they are used to bumping into people and having their personal space accidentally invaded. Nevertheless, public affection is not common and people do not usually make intentional body contact such as hugging, kissing or patting each other on the back. One exception is that members of the same gender occasionally hold hands as a token of friendship.
  • Winking: Winking at someone is considered a very rude gesture in Hong Kong.
  • Pointing: Hong Kongers avoid pointing at people and things with their index finger and use an open hand instead.
  • Beckoning: The Chinese Hong Kongers beckon by facing the palm of their hand to the ground and waving their fingers towards themselves.
  • Expressions: Hong Kongers express unhappiness/offence by sucking air through their teeth.
  • Body Language: Sitting with crossed legs can offend some Hong Kongers.
  • The Head: It is bad manners to touch someone’s head.
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