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How do culturally different people interpret nonverbal communication?


Let’s say that you’re traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language. You didn’t have time to pick up a dictionary, so you’ll have to get around using only hand gestures. The problem? Every hand gesture you do offends someone. What gives?

We may think that nonverbal communication is universal, but it’s not. Every culture interprets body language, gestures, posture and carriage, vocal noises (like shrieks and grunts), and degree of eye contact differently.

Facial expressions might be the only form of nonverbal communication that could be considered universal. No matter where you are, it seems, you must remember that your body is always saying something, even when you’re not speaking.

Full article at HowStuffWorks.com.

Total aggregation of HowStuffWorks.com.

Photo credit: Fotolia

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  • Ben Nadel

    This is really very interesting to me. I had assumed and also been told that body-language is a very universal concept. Although, just other day, I was part of a comment-thread in which someone used blatant sarcasm as a joke and one person, of an obviously non-American background, asked the sarcastic commenter to explain what they meant. To this, he replied that he was joking and it turned out the other person has no idea. It was fascinating! The comment was so outrageously sarcastic that there is really no room for misinterpretation, unless you were NOT aware of sarcasm. It seems that this concept is also not universal.