Examples Of Cultural Differences In The Interpretation Of Body Language
While body language is universally studied by experts, there are subtle cultural differences that people should be aware of. In today's global world, business is being conducted in all corners of the globe. Hence, knowing the cultural differences in the interpretation of body language will not let you make any embarrassing faux pas.
When it comes to a culturally diverse society, different body language is used in different situations. In fact, this is the same for most people. We have a different set of body language for home, friends and workplace. And, all of us use this language as and when the need arises. However, where cultures are different, body language is also different. For example, at work the setting is formal. Hence, two people will not hug each other. If they do, then it will be mistaken for flirtation or having an affair. However, when the same two people meet in a social setting, it is okay for them to hug each other. It will not be taken amiss.
In many cultures, like in Spain, Italy or Latin America, the body language is accentuated by men and women. If one person kisses another on the cheek or hugs, then it is not mistaken for a flirtation or affair. It is a normal way of greeting a person. However, this kind of greeting is not used in cultures that are reserved or strict, like in the Middle East, Asia or Japan. In these cultures, if you kiss a person on the cheek or hug a person in public, it is considered rude and inappropriate.
Even something as simple as holding hands also varies from culture to culture. If a man and woman hold hands in the US in public, it is considered to be a sign of intimacy. However, in reserved cultures like in Japan and the Middle East, if two people from opposite gender hold hands, it is considered to be promiscuous and vulgar. On the other hand, when two people from the same gender hold hands, like 2 women or 2 men, then it is considered to be a sign of friendship with no sexual connotation. However, in the US or the UK, it would be considered a sign of lesbianism or homosexuality.
Another example is that of forming a ring using the tip of the thumb and index finger. In France, if you do this gesture, it means that you think the other person is worthless. However, in Japan when the same gesture is done, it means that a reference is being made to money.
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