Non-Verbal Commuication Modes
 What is non-verbal communication? Why is non-verbal communication important?

Cultural Differences in Non-verbal Communication

  1. General Appearance and Dress
  2. All cultures are concerned for how they look and make judgements based on looks and dress.  Americans, for instance, appear almost obsessed with dress and personal attractiveness.  Consider differing cultural standards on what is attractive in dress and on what constitutes modesty. Note ways dress is used as a sign of status?

  1. Body Movement
  2. We send information on attitude toward person (facing or leaning towards another), emotional statue (tapping fingers, jiggling coins), and desire to control the environment (moving towards or away from a person).

    More than 700,000 possible motions we can make — so impossible to categorize them all!  But just need to be aware the body movement and position is a key ingredient in sending messages.

  3. Posture
  4. Consider the following actions and note cultural differences:

  5. Gestures
  6. Impossible to catalog them all.  But need to recognize: 1) incredible possibility and variety and 2) that an acceptable in one’s own culture may be offensive in another.  In addition, amount of gesturing varies from culture to culture.  Some cultures are animated; other restrained.  Restrained cultures often feel animated cultures lack manners and overall restraint.  Animated cultures often feel restrained cultures lack emotion or interest.

    Even simple things like using hands to point and count differ.

    Pointing : US with index finger; Germany with little finger; Japanese with entire hand (in fact most Asians consider pointing with index finger to be rude)

    Counting:  Thumb = 1 in Germany, 5 in Japan, middle finger for 1 in Indonesia.

  7. Facial Expressions
  8. While some say that facial expressions are identical, meaning attached to them differs.  Majority opinion is that these do have similar meanings world-wide with respect to smiling, crying, or showing anger, sorrow, or disgust.  However, the intensity varies from culture to culture.  Note the following:

  9. Eye Contact and Gaze
  10. In USA, eye contact indicates: degree of attention or interest, influences attitude change or persuasion, regulates interaction, communicates emotion, defines power and status, and has a central role in managing impressions of others.

  11. Touch
  12. Question: Why do we touch, where do we touch, and what meanings do we assign when someone else touches us?

      Illustration: An African-American male goes into a convenience store recently taken over by new Korean immigrants.  He gives a $20 bill for his purchase to Mrs Cho who is cashier and waits for his change.  He is upset when his change is put down on the counter in front of him.

      What is the problem?  Traditional Korean (and many other Asian countries) don’t touch strangers., especially between members of the opposite sex.   But the African-American sees this as another example of discrimination (not touching him because he is black).

    Basic answer:  Touch is culturally determined!  But each culture has a clear concept of what parts of the body one may not touch.  Basic message of touch is to affect or control  — protect, support, disapprove (i.e. hug, kiss, hit, kick).  

    Basic patterns: Cultures (English , German, Scandinavian, Chinese, Japanese) with high emotional restraint concepts have little public touch; those which encourage emotion (Latino, Middle-East, Jewish) accept frequent touches.

  13. Smell
  15. Paralanguage

BSAD 560, Intercultural Business Relations