Unique Filipino Way of Communication

The communication process is characterized by five elements: message, sender, channel, receiver and feedback. The process itself describes how we convey ideas to others, but it does not provide one an explanation how culture affects the process. The complexity of the culture makes it difficult to communicate to another. 

In this article, I will present information on how unique Filipinos are in communicating with another.

Message

Filipinos create messages in several ways. Given that we use several languages at the same time, sometimes messages are formed in creative ways. Do not be surprised when we make fun of our language and use different forms to convey a message. You will see the Filipino creativity when we send text messages. A dot means a lot or the selection of words in a sentence must connote the feeling of the person making the message. So be careful because all words are interpreted in the context of how it was used. Complete sentences seem to mean formality of the message, while use of colloquial terms denote friendliness. A rule of thumb, if you intend to communicate formally, maintain formality all throughout the conversation to avoid confusion. If you do so, the message is effectively understood.

Sender

Always think that once a Filipino open his or her mouth, there is an objective of doing so. We do not talk just for the sake of talking. Usually one must analyze where a conversation is heading. The good thing with us Filipinos, we usually go around the bush and we do not want to go straight to the point. We would want the receiver of the information to decipher what we mean. If you do not like where the conversation is heading, be direct and rephrase the words and ask back in a direct manner. In doing so, you will catch the Filipino by surprise and usually they will avoid pushing the objective of the conversation, since you have put them in the defensive stance. They will try again in another instance, but use the same strategy and be frank right away. 

We Filipinos, take time to explain and describe, especially on the things we want and need. On the contrary if you like where the conversation is heading, just go with the flow. Take time and be sensitive with the pace of the conversation. We usually appreciate someone talking to us in the same pace and level we do. That is simply thoughtful and sweet for us.

Channel

We Filipinos can communicate anywhere, anyway and with any person. We do not care if the situation seems to be not suitable for talking, we just simply talk. We do not have to be in a private place to talk personal matters. It is not unusual hear someone talking about their family problems while riding in public transport vehicles. This also means a Filipino can ask you any question, whether you feel comfortable or not in being asked anywhere. There is a thin line that separates appropriateness and insensitivity in the way Filipino communicates. Just deal with it, or simply be frank in telling you do not want to talk about it. 

Usually, Filipinos get offended when you reject talking to them, but if you simply point out that you do not want to be asked further and it would be better to talk other things, then most would not continue asking; although some would still be very curious to ask further and think you being defensive. If they continue, just ignore the question, maintain silence and show that through your gestures and actions that you are not interested. That would be the best way to deal with this people.

Receiver

Filipinos would never negate. We usually say yes, even though the question never necessitates and affirmative answer. This has been a source of many problems, since Filipinos are also known to uphold their words, as much as possible; and will avoid reversing their responses even though their responses compromises them. 

Keep in mind that when a Filipino say yes, it may mean no, partial yes or a full yes. What one can do is ask again in a non-threatening manner. Filipinos usually tell you the real answer on the second time the question was asked or perhaps after several times. Do not think it would be stupid to ask many times the same question. It is just the way we are. Filipinos adapt easily in foreign lands, but honestly, we cannot get rid this characteristic of asking and being asked several times.

Feedback

Regardless of whether the message has been understood or not, Filipinos will tend to repeat the information again. It may sound strange but that is how it is. If you say to a Filipino that the count is three, usually you will get a question back whether it was indeed three. Repeating your answer is not a guarantee that the Filipino will not ask again. It is not because Filipinos do not understand, they simply do not want to be mistaken. One reason could be fear of being criticized, that it would be better to repeat it, rather committing an irreversible mistake later. However, due to prior experience of mistrust and deception, Filipinos repeat information probably because they need assurance and certainty. Just be patient. Rest assured in time, if nothing happens badly, Filipinos will ask same questions less often.

Another unique thing, we Filipinos tend to react even though we do not fully know or understand the situation. Look at social media. When news comes, Filipinos tend to give their lengthy comments even sometimes, they have not totally read it. At times, our feedback can be grouped into three: premature, real and well-thought-of. Worse, we become so emotional to the point of being inappropriate with our premature reactions. That is just our nature. The best way to handle it, let us express our thoughts and feelings uninterrupted for a certain period of time. Let time pass and emotions to subside, then the real reaction comes. Quite strange? It is. Just do it to avoid misunderstandings and lengthy worthless conversations.

Aside from our premature reactions, we Filipinos tend to deviate from the main issue at times, especially when we are in the defensive mode. It is not unusual when two Filipinos are debating on an issue, when suddenly grammatical problems and personal concerns are brought up in the conversation. Everything seems to be interconnected. The issue seems to be dependent on who is talking, rather than the ideas conveyed. This is quite annoying, but the best way to deal it is either stick to the main issue by redirecting the topic, or stop the conversation. There is no harm in allowing the other party “win” the debate. Let the other party “win” so he or she gets his or her credit and feels better, while you learn from the experience. In the point of view, we all know who truly “won”, in a childish perspective.


This article is written, not to criticize the Filipino culture, rather to give awareness to Filipinos and to non-Filipinos wanting to know more about the Filipino people. This awareness I hope will lead to understanding, so we try improve the way we deal with ourselves as Filipinos or with Filipino people in general. :-)

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