Asian Body Language

Topics: Nonverbal communication, Culture, Communication Pages: 3 (986 words) Published: December 4, 2007
Body Language: A Look at Asian Cultures
Body language is indeed a powerful and useful form of communication with many forms and interpretations. How one uses body language, and how another interprets it, is one of the most intriguing parts of any society. The communication patterns of Asian languages serve to reinforce traditional cultural values and beliefs. Consistent with the primary value of preserving harmony and face in human relationships, Asian languages utilize communication patterns that promote pleasant social interaction. These include indirect communication styles; reluctance to criticize or contradict blatantly; and ability to "read" others' genuine attitudes, opinions, or feelings through nonverbal cues. A significant amount of information is therefore conveyed through nonverbal forms of communication, including silence (and the timing of verbal exchanges), facial expressions (e.g., smiling), eye contact, body movements and gestures, posture and positioning, and interpersonal space. Body languages have different meanings in different cultures. According to Roger G. Axtell, the smile is the "ultimate gesture." It carries certain characteristics unlike any other single gesture and is universally understood. However, in various cultures there are different reasons for smiling. The Japanese may smile when they are confused or angry. In other parts of Asia, people may smile when they are embarrassed. Asians may nod and appear to indicate understanding, but are non-verbally communicating that they are politely listening. Chinese and Japanese people like to avoid saying "no." Rather, they use gestures, such as waving the hand, with palm outward, back and forth in front of one's own face to signal the concepts of "I do not know," or "I do not understand," or even "No, I am undeserving." Elements of posture are also considered to be more relevant by some cultures. The Chinese associate "correct posture" with respect for others. Being...
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