People from different countries have different behavioral pattern, depending upon their culture, values and ethics. They develop their mannerism from these factors. If we take into account Americans, Japanese, and Saudi Arabian and try and find out how they behave on one particular way, specially when making contact with each other while talking. We can make out amongst them who are who. An American will try and make himself stand at distance he will try to adjust himself at a comfortable position from the person he is talking to at the same time he will try and maintain eye contact.
A Japanese may shake hand and stand very close while talking but he usually keep his gaze down, unlike American where his habit of constantly gazing will make you feel as you are been screened. An Arab will like to be at a very close distance from the person he is talking to, may be as close as you can feel his breath, they also like lot of check-to-check social kissing, the Hollywood style.
The body language do half the talking, we all know that.
But for that, we have to understand cross-cultural differences, like the one stated above in which how the people from three different countries are behaving in a different manner. If we do not understand that then we might make the people we are talking to feel uncomfortable. As an American can make a Japanese uncomfortable with his continuous gaze, and similarly Arab can make American uncomfortable with his closeness.
In some South American and Mediterranean societies eye contact, touching and smiling and standing at a foot distance is preferred style of communication where on the other hand in Northern Europe, a lingering gaze may feel invasive, manipulative or disgraceful, they chat at a distance of two and a half feet. If we look at Estonians, they are non-contact people. On the other hand, Russians are high contact people. So the reaction for each other is like, Russian feels Estonians are cold and Estonians feels Russians are pushy.
Caucasians feels averting eye contact may be a gesture to hide misbehavior, where for Asian it’s a sign of respect. An American will suspect an unknown person who took a elevator with him and tries to smile and stand at a very close distance, where usually he would have taken another corner and gazed in space. Thus a very suspicious feeling for such person will arise. It is mostly seen this kind of behaviour from a criminal or from the patients of schizophrenia where he approaches and get closer to the other person more than usual.
Be very sure the closer you let your stranger to be the more vulnerable you become. The spatial differences amongst cultures points more than self-protection. In Middle East people get the information about the strangers by their sense of smell and touch, which requires close approach. Americans, rely on visual information, therefore, they don’t need to be so close to the subject. They rather step back and see an intelligent whole picture of the person. Conversational distance tell us the about the standard greeting distance in each culture.
The need for more or less space means something of the cultural temperament. There is gender difference also other than country difference. A woman seems to have more eye contact than men. Also a woman feel neglected if this conversational distance is too much. They feel that the partner is indifferent. With the businesses growing global a need for a new breed of consultants has immerged, who interpret to these globe-trotters of all nationalities the meaning and use of personal space. There are special classes also for this kind of cultural behaviour, which will be a great help to understand each other.
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