Not sure if anyone’s heard this expression, slightly similar to “read between the lines.” I touched briefly on it several episodic musings ago, a little something I picked up in Asia. Thought I’d elaborate once more on it here. Enjoy.
Musings Episode 57: Read The Air…
There’s certain points in conversation where an exchange happens, and either both or one of the parties wanna say something but refrain slightly from doing so – and instead just sort of “dance” around the subject.
Personally, I prefer to talk straight (note, this does not mean “talking without thinking first”), but sometimes this type of thinking isn’t always appropriate for every single situation. This is where learning to appreciate reading the air comes in handy. Don’t get me wrong – reading the air has some serious negatives, too – but at times and in certain situations, it can be highly beneficial (business is not one of them though).
I remember my days back in uni studying International Business and Asia Pacific Studies – this was shortly after returning from Japan – they were discussing just what “reading the air” meant.
Simply put, it’s like saying something without actually saying it, but the implication’s there with as few words as possible. It’s about reading the atmosphere, and knowing what (or what not) to say next. It’s just something you’ve gotta pick up on. It’s pretty helpful because it can spare embarrassment.
So why the heck am I writing about this on a Musings Episode? It’s just one of those thoughts I had to get on paper…or computer screen, guess you could say.
I’d say the trait is more in Americans, BUT, coming from an English background as well there’s been more than a fair share of people I’ve wanted to say “sod off” too as well.
Reading the air can tie into not letting your brother turn “red in the face.” It’s a really core part of Japanese culture and something that you never fully master – some may call it “passive.” Yeah, it’s got some tendencies of “don’t rock the boat,” but really it can boil down to sparing someone’s feelings as well (hence the “red in the face” expression).
Although Chinese culture is on a whole different level (right down to the way they ask you to open a window) when it comes to indirect communication, the same way kids in primary school out here are being taught Mandarin, because this is turning into a global economy and has been one for a while now, it’d be really beneficial if the generation of today were taught key cultural “quirks” like these.
It’s not asking much either, really. The same way Western culture has its sarcasm, highly innuendo-ish humor, and cliches, picking up how to understand what someone’s saying without a plethora of words could balance the entirety of a lot of people’s social skills to say the least.
Tomorrow I’ll be elaborating on a few quick tips on exactly how to start reading the air.
Just a little Sunday food for thought. Wanna share your opinion? Comment below.
Hope everyone’s having a great morning. 😉
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