What aspects of non verbal communication are likely to differ when people from different cultures communicate? Communication is a very important aspect of the human life, since it is the communication that helps human beings and other animals to connect with each other, as individuals and as independent groups. Communication serves a number of functions; to disseminate information, to express ideas and emotions, for education, to build relationships, for entertainment and for decision making purposes and is done verbally or non -verbally. Verbal communication involves the use of language, speech and voice where as in non verbal communication the body does the coding for us in form of gestures, facial expressions, posture, and paralanguage. This is why nonverbal communication is also termed the body language. Culture constitute the totality of socially transmitted behaviour patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought. These patterns, traits, and products are the expression of a particular period, class, community, or population. Hence patterns, traits, and products considered with respect to a particular people may not be treated in the same regard to another people. This essay seeks to describe the aspects of non-verbal communication that are likely to differ when people from different cultures communicate. Examples will be drawn from different cultures to demonstrate these differences in cultures Samovar et al (2009), defined communication in the following way, “communication occurs whenever meaning is attributed to behaviour or the residue of behaviour.” With this, different people from different cultures can possibly give different meanings to behaviour depending on how they understood it. This statement also supports that we should be careful about how we act as someone can give meaning to our actions whether they were conscious or unconscious. Culture has been defined by Hall (1974), as the medium evolved by humans to survive. He further states that nothing in our lives is free from cultural influences. The way people talk, dress, eat, walk is influenced by their culture. This explains why culture and communication can not be separated as it has a great impact on communication as well. Culture is not genetically defined but is learned through the society we grow in. As a child grows in a community, they learn through observations and being taught what is acceptable and inacceptable in that culture. This in turn shapes the values of that child. Hoebel and Frost define culture as an, “integrated system of learned behaviour patterns which are characteristic of the members of a society and which are not the results of biological inheritance.” The environment and setting one was brought up in and lives in determines how we communicate. Non verbal communication according to Samovar et al (2009) is,”any communication that involves non verbal stimuli that are generated by both the source and his or her use of the environment and that have potential message value to the source or receiver.” The behaviours that most people engage in consciously and unconsciously contribute to non verbal communication. A reflex action of behaviour is triggered during a conversation that can sell one out even if verbally they seem to be in agreement with what is being said. Non verbal behaviour can easily substitute the verbal communication as it represents our true emotions in most cases Although Ekman et al (1975) suggests that some non verbal communication aspects of facial expressions are universal, there are many aspects of non verbal communication which differ from one culture to another. As much as facial expressions of anger, fear, joy, sadness, and surprise are more or less the same amongst all cultures there are some non verbal aspects that mean totally different things from one culture to another which might have serious repercussions to the...
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