What Situations You Might Need to Interpret Nonverbal Behavior of Someone from Another Culture and What Problems Could Arise from Not Understanding Differences in Nonverbal Behavior

Topics: Nonverbal communication, Communication, Intercultural competence Pages: 1 (292 words) Published: November 13, 2008
Several situations might arise, whereas an individual or individuals may be faced with the need to use paralinguistic skills, especially when faced with language boundaries. In today’s world, international communication is essential, and non-verbal communication can relate directly to diplomatic ventures, business presentations, sales and marketing, and the development of social skills between different cultures. Although the studies of kinesics and proxemics have aided professionals in establishing commonalities in non-verbal understanding, including unintentional forms of communication through subconscious body movements and cultural differences in how far apart individuals engaged in conversation stand depending on the degree of intimacy between them. Although these techniques are often instrumental in areas of criminology, business, and human resources, individuals are seldom trained to understand these specifics of human interaction, especially when different cultures are involved. It is often assumed that nonverbal communication is a transferable skill. However, there are two major problematic factors: firstly that, like speech, it has both form and function, and, secondly, that it is not always directly translatable. It is the first of these factors which makes nonverbal communication difficult to teach, and the second which leads to breakdowns and misunderstandings in intercultural communication. Gestures, expressions and all other forms of nonverbal communication have functions, which, as with language, need to be taught along with their forms. Misunderstandings occur because the functions of paralinguistic forms vary from culture to culture, although there are some universal non-verbals such as smiles, laughter and sour expressions. There are also differences according to gender and age. Nonverbal communication tends to be relatively ambiguous and open to interpretation while its influence often depends on the nature of the ‘listener’, particularly...
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