Canadians are often considered indirect because we often soften our comments with questions and suggestions rather than criticizing in a very straight forward manner. (This the subject of another post.) But we are also generally expected to be direct in Canada, meaning we say what we mean and don’t worry too much about hiding our feelings.
Canada has a very heterogeneous culture — Canadians come from many different backgrounds. Given this, we can’t assume that we will be understood unless we make things very clear. We don’t have a developed common culture which allows us all easily interpret where the other person is coming from.*
We are also an individualistic culture, meaning we value individual success. Within this context, it is important that our individual ideas, feelings and perspective are expressed and understood.
Sometimes being direct appears rude.
Do you ever feel this way? Are you from a homogeneous culture, where most people come from a similar background?
In these cultures, people generally have a developed understanding of expectations and speak more indirectly. Often these cultures are collectivist and value group harmony, i.e., the well-being of the collective is more important than individual thoughts and feelings.
Sometimes a Canadian seems to be rude, even to a native-born Canadian. And that’s because, sometimes they are!
* This is an idiom (to know where someone is coming from) which means to understand why someone is doing or saying something because you understand the background or experience of the person speaking.