CULTURAL DIFFERENCES IN NONVERBAL
a. Americans look directly in each other’s eyes when talking.
b. Most Western people think that if people are afraid to look
others in the eye, means they are hiding something or lying.
c. In China, long eye contact makes people weird and people
frequently avoid direct eye contact with others.
d. In Japan and Africa, prolonged eye contact is offensive and
e. In Arabic cultures, prolonged eye contact shows interest and
helps them understand the other person..
f. People from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean avoid
eye contact to show respect.
o It is considered as universal
o Six universal expression:
o Smile is one of the most common facial expressions.
a. Americans smile freely at strangers.
b. Asians smile not only to express joy and friendliness but also
to convey pain and embarrassment.
c. Russians consider smiling strange and even impolite.
d. Mediterranean's, such as Latin and Arabic cultures,
exaggerate grief or sadness while most Americans hide grief
o Restrained cultures often feel that animated cultures lack
manners and overall restraint.
o Animated cultures often feel that restrained cultures lack
emotion or interest.
a. In the Middle East, nodding the head down indicates
agreement and nodding it up is a sign of disagreement.
b. In Japan, an up-and-down nod might just be a signal that
someone is listening .
c. Americans and Chinese; nodding or moving the head up and
down means “Yes” and shaking the head from one side to
the other means “No”.
d. In India, nodding the head means “No” while shaking it
e. Nodding of the head in other cultures is a sign of
acknowledgement or agreement, but in some cases it only
means “I am listening, but I am not in agreement.”
f. Bowing is criticized or rejected in the US, but in Japan, it
indicates respect and an acknowledgment of rank.
g. The thumbs-up signal is vulgar in Iran and Latin America.
h. “Ok” signal, refers to money while in others, it is an
extremely offensive referring to a private body part.
i. Americans use index finger; Germans use their little finger,
Japanese and Thais use their entire hand to point.
j. To start counting, the Germans use their thumb; the
Japanese use their little finger ; the Indonesians use their
k. Placing both hands at the sides of the head with the
forefingers pointing upward is a sign of anger, in other culture
it is an invitation to make love.
l. Some countries consider a handshake rude. In Middle East, it
is always rude to hand an object to another person with your
left hand because it is reserved for matters of personal
m. While burping after a meal is considered the height of
uncouthness in US, a heartily belch is a sign of appreciation
for the cook in India.
n. In China you wave your arms from one side to the other side
to call a taxi on the street; in US, most people will face a taxi
at a drive through, make a fist without the thumb. In China
the hand movement means that people agree with others’
idea or it means “Good” or “I am okay”
o Each culture has a clear concept of what parts of the body
one may not touch.
o It may convey protection, support or disapproval.
a. Asians do more touching than Americans.
b. In China, a lot of girls like holding each other’s hand or
putting an arm on the other’s shoulder while walking on the
streets. For some Americans and Europeans, this action
seems to close and some of them may think that the girls are
c. In some cultures, patting a child’s head is affectionate or
friendly except Asian countries.
a. Resting the feet on the desk while sitting is common among
Americans. In Asia, Middle East and Europe, it is considered
as highly offensive.
b. Slouching is rude in most of Northern Europe and even in
some Asian countries.
c. Putting hands inside the pocket while standing is
disrespectful in Turkey.
d. Sitting with legs crossed is offensive in Ghana
e. In Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Saudi Arabia, showing the
sole of the feet while sitting in formal gatherings is offensive.
o The most central differences that separate cultures and
cultural ways of doing things.
a. In US, time is gold, respect for efficiency and the success of
economic endeavors are generally based on time. The Americans’
use of time is monochromic, they do things one at a time.
b. In the East , they treat time as endless and limitless. Their use is
polychromic; that is doing several tasks at the same time.
c. In Germany, arriving on time is a sign of respect and politeness,
being late is rude.
d. In China, when you are invited to someone’s house party, you
should be there on time or a little bit early.
e. Venezuela is another place where being early or on time is being
a. Arabs consider natural body odor as normal.
b. Asians bathe frequently, but Americans and
Europeans criticize this practice
TO BE AN EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATOR,
TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THE CULTURAL
VALUES AND CUSTOMS OF YOUR
To effectively communicate, we must realize
that we are all different in the way we
perceive the world and use this
understanding as a guide to our
communication with others.