Your actions speak louder than words.
Communication process is not limited to what we say with words. There
are 3 elements of communication: Words (7% of information is
communicated though words), Body language (55%) and tone of voice (38%).
Thus, 93% of communication is non-verbal.
The patterns of non-verbal communication that people use are defined by
their culture, gender and social status.
There are several types of Non-verbal communication: Kinesics,
Proxemics, Chronemics, Oculesics, Haptics.
Kinesics – movement of the body (head, arms, legs, etc.). For example,
the gesture of slitting one’s throat in America means “I’ve had enough”
or “I’m in trouble” in Swaziland means “I love you”.
Proxemics – the use of interpersonal space. For example Greeks and South
Americans find it comfortable to stand, sit or talk to people at a
distance which seems to North Americans and some Europeans intolerably
The closeness of Greeks and South Americans is unusual to Europeans and
North Americans and it causes them to have the feelings of hostility,
discomfort and intimidation.
However if Americans back away to their distance of comfort they’ll be
perceived as cold, unfriendly and distrustful.
Chronemics – the timing of verbal exchanges during conversation.
Americans expect their partner to respond to their statement
immediately. But, for example in eastern cultures, in Japan or China,
they leave silence between each statement.
For Americans this silence is unsettling and the person might seem shy,
inattentive or nervous. In intercultural situation, it might be best for
the visitor to tolerate the silence and wait for a response.
Oculesics – eye-to-eye contact or avoidance. Eye contact is very
important in communication. People use their eyes to show interest. It
is considered impolite to fix one’s eyes on smb., but some eye-contact
is necessary to show that your interest and attention.
Haptics – is the tactile form of communication. Where, how and how often
people can touch each other while having a conversation are culturally
Italians and people in Latin America touch each other more often than
Americans and the English.
It also depends on the kind of communication situation one is in. For
example, in Russia among close friends and the family touching is quite
common, whereas at work it is not appropriate at all.
The ways of non-verbal communication differ from culture to culture. We
should be aware of those differences in order not to be misunderstood
and to properly understand other people.
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