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Beyond Words: Nonverbal Communication

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Jennifer Hornbaker

on 18 January 2013

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Transcript of Beyond Words: Nonverbal Communication

Beyond Words A guide to the
nonverbal communication
of Arab and Chinese students Leaning against the wall or standing with your hands in your pockets while talking is considered a sign of disrespect in Arab culture. Both Chinese and Arab people consider sitting with your feet up and slouching to be disrespectful. Non-Westernized Arabs feel the same way about crossed legs. This action says, in effect, "You are scum beneath my feet." In fact, showing the soles of your shoes or feet to an Arab person is highly insulting. These two sure don't think a lot of you! Hand-holding between Arab males is common and demonstrates friendship; greetings often include an embrace and a kiss on each cheek. Chinese, like Americans, are relatively uncomfortable with touching. This difference in personal space expectations often results in an awkward "dance" between speakers. One party "intrudes" on the space of the other, who then steps back to restore the buffer zone. Backing up may actually offend a Chinese or Arab speaker. Both cultures, however, maintain much closer distances during conversation than Americans typically do. Makes you cringe, doesn't it? The left hand is considered unclean in Islamic cultures. It is not used to eat or to present items to others. In China, both hands are required to exchange items with others in a respectful manner. Long, direct eye contact (aka staring) is perfectly polite in Arab cultures. In contrast, averted eyes show respect in China. Helpful Hints Tilting the head back and clicking the tongue = no Saudi Arabia Pointing is done with an open hand, not the index finger. China Shaking the "A-ok" sign at someone = may evil fall upon you Extending the hand and pointing the middle finger down = "The Finger" Beckoning someone is done by holding the palm down and making a scratching motion. Silence is a virtue. A lapse in conversation does not need to be filled.

A handshake, rather than a bow, has become the customary form of greeting, but don't be upset if it is not accompanied by a smile; Chinese attitude discourages the open display of feelings. Saudi Arabia Excessive pointing or signaling with the hands should be avoided.

Speech volume marks the degree of seriousness, but loud, angry speech is considered offensive.

It is rude to eat or drink in front of someone who is fasting.

Intimate areas of the body, such as the shoulders, stomach, calves, and thighs, are not displayed. China Sources Patriots' pockets: Retrieved from http://rumfordmeteor.com/?cat=33

Slouching: Retrieved from http://designergenesdevo.wordpress.com/2008/01/15/what-are-you-trying-to-say/

Feet up: Retrieved from http://weaselzippers.us/2011/09/21/biden-%E2%80%9Cobama-literally-saved-this-economy-from-falling-off-a-cliff/

Hand holding: Retrieved from http://whitenoiseinsanity.com/2009/04/10/soooooowhy-did-president-obama-bow-to-king-abdullah-of-saudi-arabia-a-week-ago/

Seinfeld, J., Gammill, T., Pross, M., & David, L. (Writers). (1994). The Raincoats [Television series episode]. In T. Cherones (Director), Seinfeld. Los Angeles, CA: Sony Pictures Television. Retrieved from

Left hand: Copyright 2011 Food & Nutrition Ltd. Photo: Bliss Tree. Retrieved from http://allfoodnutrition.net/1903-study-eating-left-hand-prevent.html.

Both hands: Copyright 2010 PassportCareer.com. Retrieved from http://www.passportcareer.com/blog/protocol-for-using-business-cards-in-asia/

Cartoon eye contact: Retrieved from http://lookatmyhappyrainbow.com/eye-contact/
A-ok: Retrieved from http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=166013.0

Fornwald, M. The Arab version of "The Finger." In Axtell, R. (1991). Gestures: The do's and taboos of body language around the world (p. 35). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Hand point: Copyright 2012 Become an Air Hostess. Retrieved from http://www.becomeanairhostess.com/online-flight-attendant-training/

Fornwald, M. A beckoning gesture used in many European and Latin American countries. In Axtell, R. (1991). Gestures: The do's and taboos of body language around the world (p. 32). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Images Axtell, R. E. (1991). Gestures: The do's and taboos of body language around the world. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Flaitz, J. (Ed.). (2003). Understanding your international students. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press.
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