SEARCH: The Journal of the South East Asia Research Centre for Communication and Humanities

, 7:3

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

The Perceived Value of Silence and Spoken Words in Malaysian Interactions

  • Kuang Ching HeiAffiliated withUniversity of Malaya Email author 
  • , Wong Ngan Ling
  • , Maya Khemlani David


This paper analysed the perceptions of Malaysians in engaging silence (say nothing) and in using spoken words (talk) as a tool of communication in their daily interactions. Types of topics and situations being discussed were explored in order to detect when silence or words were likely to be used by participants. Self-administered questionnaires were distributed to students and staff of three public universities. Of the 656 samples collected, 50% were Chinese, 33% were Malays, 15% were Indians and 2% others. The demography consisted of 199 males and 456 females. SPSS version 18 was used to analyse data and results indicate that the use of silence was more significantly related to issues concerning money and personal affairs. In contrast, the use of spoken words was more significantly related to issues regarding infidelity. These findings are beneficial to researchers who are doing cross cultural studies and in particular, silence. Course designers can thus develop courses which can promote harmony by introducing certain strategies such as silence which, when used appropriately, can help to alleviate misunderstandings.


Malaysians communication words silence cultural differences