What Your Body Says about Your Culture
Unlike the seven basic facial expressions of emotion (anger, surprise, fear, sadness, contempt, disgust and happiness) body language is not universal. Therefore, it cannot be viewed the same way across all cultures; body language is in fact culture specific.
This means that every culture has its own body language including gestures that belong specifically to that culture. This does not mean that all gestures can only belong to one culture. Many cultures have the same gestures, but they mean very different things. This is when communication especially cross-cultural communication skills are very important.
With a global interactive world (via the internet), people of divergent cultures are having to work together and communicate everyday.
My Guidon.com reports that body language comprises 90% of our communication. For example they point out that in America, the cultural gesture of shaking hands upon greeting is considered the norm and to refuse a handshake is considered a very rude gesture. However, in Saudi Arabia, you can shake a man’s hand after meeting him, but you cannot shake a woman’s hand at all in greeting. Furthermore Asian cultures prefer to bow in lieu of shaking hands as a greeting.
This is true of many other American gestures such as the OK sign, thumbs up, and eye contact.
Different levels of eye contact are deemed appropriate in different societies. In much of the West, making eye contact sporadically while talking is deemed a sign of trustworthiness. Most Westerners, however, would be uncomfortable with the intense level of eye contact favored by Middle Easterners. The Japanese, on the other hand, see direct eye contact as a sign of rudeness.
The article goes on to point out differences in gestural meaning between genders as well as.
Humintell understands the importance of cross-cultural communication in today’s global interactions. Our IntelliCulture course is designed to improve interactions among people of different cultures.
IntelliCulture offers the individual a better understanding of the definition of culture, which groups have culture and which don’t, how to overcome cultural differences and how to think critically when encountered with a difficult cultural situation.
It is good to learn about the expectations and adhere to those expectations when interacting with people of a different culture.
When it comes to cultural differences, knowledge is the key !
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