Evaluate thought patterns
Appreciate attitudes toward time and use of space
Understand the role that eye contact, smell, color, touch, and
body language have on communication
Learn how silence is used
What is meant by nonverbal communication?
Nonword messages, such as gestures, facial expressions,
interpersonal distance, touch, eye contact, smell, and silence.
Cultural Differences in Patterns of Thought or Processes of
Reasoning and Problem Solving
Deductive reasoning -
going from broad
categories or observations
to specific examples; U.S.
persons use deductive
Inductive reasoning -
start with observations or
facts and go to
use inductive reasoning.
Thought Patterns Include Speed of Making Decisions
U. S. managers make quick
The Japanese use a slower
method of problem solving.
Paralanguage - Refers to rate, volume, and quality that affects the
meaning of the message.
Increased volume = anger or
a desire to be heard
Increased rate of speech
= impatience or anger
Differences in loudness of speech is culture specific and gender
Arabs speak loudly; this is an indication of strength and sincerity.
People of the Philippines and Thailand speak softly; it indicates
breeding and education.
Males usually speak louder than females and at a lower pitch
Rate of speech varies with the
region of the U.S.; Northerners
speak faster than Southerners.
Areas of Nonverbal Communication
Time (Chronemics) - Attitudes toward time vary from culture to
Countries that follow monochronic time perform only one major
activity at a time (U.S., England, Switzerland, Germany).
Countries that follow polychronic time
work on several activities
simultaneously (Latin America, the
Mediterranean, the Arabs).
• do one thing at a time
• concentrate on the job
• take time commitments
• are committed to the job
• show respect for private
property; rarely borrow or lend
• are accustomed to short-term
• do many things at once
• are highly distractible
• consider time commitments
• are committed to people
• borrow and lend things often
• tend to build lifetime
Cultural Differences in Attitudes Toward Time
U.S. persons: very time conscious and value punctuality. Late for
meetings > rude, insensitive and person is not well organized.
Germans and Swiss people: even more time conscious; people of
Singapore and Hong Kong also value punctuality.
Algeria: punctuality is not widely regarded. Latin American
countries: manana attitude; Arab cultures: casual attitude
Space (Proxemics) People in the
U.S. tend to
space than do
stand too close.
being pushy or
may also be
Space Zones in the U.S.
intimate zone (<18 inches) is reserved for very close friends
personal zone (18 inches to 4 feet) is for giving instructions to
others or working closely with another person
social zone (4 to 12 feet) is used in business situations in which
people interact in a more formal, impersonal way
public distance > 12 feet
Hall & Hall, Understanding Cultural Differences
12 feet18 inches
The Japanese stand even farther away than do U.S. persons.
Fig Leaf Position
down in front of the
body), and positioning
themselves in the
corners or against the
Everyone is supposed
to look straight ahead
or at the elevator
Looking at people,
facing people is
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The Office Environment and Nonverbal Messages
U.S. persons prefer desks and
chairs in a F2F arrangement or at
Chinese prefer the side-by-side
In the U.S. offices with windows
matters; size matters; top floor
has more status than the 1st floor.
French top-level executives
occupy the middle of an office
area with subordinates around
The Japanese do not consider
private offices appropriate; only
the highest ranking officers have
private offices and may have
desks in large work areas as well.
Gaze/Eye Contact (Oculesics) People in the U.S. favor direct eye
contact, in other cultures, such as
the Japanese, the reverse is true;
they direct their gaze below the
chin. In the Middle East, eye
contact is more intense than U.S.
people are comfortable with.
A prolonged gaze or stare in the
U.S. is considered rude. In most
cultures, men do not stare at
women as this may be interpreted
as sexually suggestive.
Although people of the U.S.
respond negatively to body
odors, Arabs are comfortable
with natural body odors.
Other cultures in which smell
plays an important role include
the Japanese and Samoans.
Touch, when used properly,
may create feelings of warmth
and trust; when used
improperly, touch may cause
annoyance and betray trust.
Hierarchy is a consideration
when using touch in the U.S.:
people who are older or
higher rank may touch those
who are younger or of lower
rank; equals may touch each
“Don't Touch” Cultures
U.S. and Canada
Other N. European countries
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Middle Ground Countries
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Latin American countries
Spain and Portugal
Some Asian countries
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Location of the Touch Is Important
Appropriate touch in the U.S.
is limited to shaking hands in
business situations - no hugs
or expressions of
In Thailand do not
touch the head.
In Thailand do not touch the
Do not touch Asians on the
shoulders or even the back of
the worker's chair.
Avoid touching a person with
the left hand in the Middle
and posture and
To interpret facial
it is important to take
context and culture
People in some
cultures rarely show
Asians will smile or
laugh softly when they
The face and eyes
convey the most
expressive types of body
happiness, surprise, fear,
anger, interest, and
Facial expressions must
be controlled when
inappropriate to the
setting (yawning during
Emblems or symbols
("V" for victory)
officer's hand held up
to stop traffic)
Regulators (glancing at
watch when in a hurry)
Affect displays (a
person's face turns red
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General Guidelines U.S. Gestures
Interest is expressed by maintaining eye contact with the speaker,
smiling, and nodding the head.
Open-mindedness is expressed by open hands and palms turned
Nervousness is sometimes shown by fidgeting, failing to give the
speaker eye contact, or jingling keys or money in your pocket.
General Guidelines U.S. Gestures
indicated by glancing
away or touching your
nose, eyes, or ears.
Defensiveness is indicated
by crossing your arms
over your chest, making
fisted gestures, or
crossing your legs.
Lack of interest or
boredom is indicated by
glancing repeatedly at
your watch or staring at
the ceiling or floor or out
the window when the
person is speaking.
Additional Guidelines for Gesturing in Various Cultures
The “V” for victory gesture, holding two
fingers upright, with palm and fingers faced
outward, is widely used in the U.S. and
many other countries. In England,
however, it is a crude connotation when
used with the palm in.
The vertical horns gesture (raised fist, index finger and little finger
extended) has an insulting connotation in Italy
In Brazil and Venezuela it is a sign for good luck
This symbol has various meanings in U.S. subcultures and should
be used only when you are sure the other person understands its
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Thumbs Up and Head Nod…
The thumbs-up gesture
has been widely
recognized as a positive
“everything is O.K.” or
“good going.” Although
well known in North
America and most of
Europe, in Australia and
West Africa it is seen as a
The head nod in most
countries means “yes,” but
in Bulgaria it means “no.”
Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rileyroxx/
The “O.K.” sign, is
a positive gesture
in the U.S., while
in Brazil it is
In Japan, this
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The beckoning gesture (fingers
upturned, palm facing the body)
used by people in the U.S. for
summoning a waiter, for
example, is offensive to
Filipinos, as it is used to beckon
animals and prostitutes.
Vietnamese and Mexicans also
find it offensive.
Image source: http://dwaynetan.blogspot.com/
Posture and Stance
Posture can convey self-confidence,
status, and interest.
Confident people have a relaxed
posture, yet stand erect and walk with
Walking with stooped shoulders and a
slow, hesitating gait projects negative
messages of lack of confidence.
Posture and Stance
Interest is demonstrated by leaning forward toward the
person with whom you are conversing.
The posture of U.S. persons is casual, including sitting
in a relaxed manner and slouching when standing
(considered rude in Germany).
Posture when seated varies with the
culture; U.S. persons often cross their
legs while seated (women at the ankle
and men with the ankle on the knee).
Follow the lead of the person of the other culture; assume the
posture they assume.
Most Middle Easterners
would consider crossing
the leg with the ankle on
the knee inappropriate.
Avoid showing the sole of
your shoe or pointing your
foot at someone in the
Color (Chromatics)- has cultural variations in connotations.
Black is the colour of mourning in the
U.S., but white is worn to funerals by
the Japanese and Indians.
In the U.S. white is typically worn by
brides, while in India red or yellow is
Purple is sometimes associated with
royalty, but it is the color of death in
Mexico and Brazil.
Red (especially red roses) is associated
with romance in some cultures including
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United Airlines, during its
initial flights from Hong
Kong handed out white
carnations to the
To many Asians, it
means bad luck and even
They changed to red
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Although U.S. persons are uncomfortable with silence, people
from the Middle East are quite comfortable with silence.
The Japanese also like periods of silence and do not like to be
hurried. Such Japanese proverbs as, “Those who know do not
speak - those who speak do not know,” emphasize the value of
silence over words in that culture.
In Italy, Greece, and Arabian
countries, on the other hand,
there is very little silence.