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Non Verbal Cues In Different Cultures:-
“If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there is something
gorgeous about him”- F. Scott Fitzgerald regarding his character Gatsby who in his novel was
regarded as a gentlemen not by the words he spoke but by the mere nonverbal cues that he had mastered.

Non verbal cues are the interpersonal process of sending and receiving information, both intentionally and
unintentionally, without actually using written or spoken language.

Non verbal cues can be divided into six categories.

1. Facial Expression
2. Gestures and Postures
3. Vocal characteristics
4. Personal appearance
5. Touch
6. Time and space.

Non verbal cues are very imperative in a communication process. According to the Mehrabian study
conducted by Prof. Albert Mehrabian of the University of California, non verbal cues account for 55% of
the message that one transmit. These non verbal cues vary from culture to culture and countries to countries
in terms of meanings. These non verbal cues can get you out of difficult situations at the same time get you
into a rather undesired situation as well. Entire books have been written on this topic which shows the
significance that people pay on the different non verbal cues around the world. Business deals can be
struck, at the same time deals can be broken if wrong body language even though unintentionally are

Different hand gestures in different cultures:-

Perhaps the most effective, important and undoubtedly the most frequently used non verbal cue are the
hand gestures that people use to back what they are saying. A popular T.V show of the late 70’s called
‘Learn the body” says that about 50% of the Italian language can be spoken without actually speaking a
word. That’s because hand gestures are used very frequently in Italy as is the case also with the rest of
Hand gestures mean different things in different countries. Some people realize this the hard way. Do two
fingers in the air mean two beers or an insult?

Following are some hand gestures which have different meanings in different cultures.

1. U.S.A:-
2. JAPAN:-

3.United Kingdom:-
4. Italy:-

5. Australia:-
While the element of touch is not seen as an important
convention in countries like the US and UK, Arab countries are
notorious for their extended hand shakes and hugs to show their
acceptance and friendliness although this is not the case with
women in those same countries. China, Japan, North and South
Korea and other eastern Asian countries rarely use touch instead
they use bowing down as an indicator of respect and acceptance.

The significance of non verbal cues was demonstrated by

undoubtedly one of the most imporatant person of our world
BARACK OBAMA who used the bow down position to greet
the JAPANESE President as evident in the picture.

Personal appearance:-
Personal appearance also plays a vital role in non verbal cues. Your
personal appearance directly sends either good or bad messages to
everyone around you. For example turning up in a T-shirt and jeans in a
board meeting can definitely get you into trouble .Personal appearance
vary from people to people and places to places.

While suit and tie seems to be universally accepted yet there

are some certain occasions where they might not be appropriate. For
example at the annual meeting of the Scottish Rite Fraternity in
Edinburgh , you are invited to adhere to the dress code prescribed by
them .If you don’t then you are not allowed to enter and more worse
may be expelled from the fraternity. Therefore not only should we
adhere to the personal appearance of different cultures but also respect
them for better communication.

Time and space:-

Usually people with low context cultures (Germany, USA, and German Swiss) pay a significant
amount of stress on time and space. To them everyone needs there space and privacy and they utterly
respect it. Whereas high context cultures like ours don’t pay much stress on this factor. Low context
cultures also pay stress on time and are very time oriented. A classic example can be observed by the
fact that once an Arab business man appeared just 12min late in a meeting he was to attend in Berlin,
Germany. He without knocking entered the meeting hall and in doing so violated two of the most
fundamental rule of German ethics i.e. respecting someone’s private space and not being punctual. The
deal eventually did not go well and was called off due to these factors. This just goes to show the
significance of Time and space that certain cultures have and one should definitely do his homework
before interaction with any person belonging to any culture other than yours.
The Golden Rule:-
"Do not do to others what would anger you if done to you by others." –
Perhaps the GOLDEN RULE can be summed in the saying of the Greek Philosopher Isocrates (not

The Golden Rule is an ethical code that states one has a right to just treatment, and a responsibility to
ensure justice for others. It is also called the ethic of reciprocity. It is arguably the most essential basis for
the modern concept of human rights, though it has its critics. A key element of the golden rule is that a
person attempting to live by this rule treats all people, not just members of his or her in-group, with

Practical Example:-

Let's consider an example of how the rule is used. President Kennedy in 1963 appealed to the golden rule in
an anti-segregation speech at the time of the first black enrollment at the University of Alabama. He asked
whites to consider what it would be like to be treated as second-class citizens because of skin color. Whites
were to imagine themselves being black -- and being told that they couldn't vote, or go to the best public
schools, or eat at most public restaurants, or sit in the front of the bus. Would whites be content to be
treated that way? He was sure that they wouldn't -- and yet this is how they treated others. He said the
"heart of the question is whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated."

The golden rule is best interpreted as saying: "Treat others only in ways that you're willing to be
treated in the same exact situation." To apply it, you'd imagine yourself in the exact place of the other
person on the receiving end of the action. If you act in a given way toward another, and yet are unwilling to
be treated that way in the same circumstances, then you violate the rule.

The golden rule is best seen as a consistency principle. It doesn't replace regular moral norms. It isn't an
infallible guide on which actions are right or wrong; it doesn't give all the answers. It only prescribes
consistency -which we not have our actions (toward another) be out of harmony with our desires (toward a
reversed situation action). It tests our moral coherence. If we violate the golden rule, then we're violating
the spirit of fairness and concern that lie at the heart of morality.

Religions on “THE GOLDEN RULE”:-

The golden rule has been mentioned in almost all the religions to date.

• ISLAM-- Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you(Farewell sermon of the Prophet Muhammad
• JUDAISM-- You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your
neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.( Leviticus 19:18 )
• CHRISTIANITY-- “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12).
• CONFUCIANISM-- Never impose on others what you would not choose for
• HINDUISM-- One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own
self. This, in brief, is the rule of dharma. Other behavior is due to selfish desires.( Brihaspati,