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How Communication And Gestures Can Vary In Different Cultures

While all cultures share the same basic emotions, the forms of communication used throughout different cultures of the world vary enormously. What can mean one thing in one country, can often mean something completely different in another. For example, in North America and Europe people tend to prefer direct eye contact. But in some Asian countries such as Japan, Korea and Thailand, prolonged eye contact is considered rude. So when persuading or communicating with people, always be aware of different cultural customs that may exist. This is especially relevant when you are traveling abroad and communicating with people from different countries. If you are not aware of such differences, you may be perceived as having poor communication skills, rude or offensive.

Differences In Communication Between Similar Cultures


Even though a culture may be similar, the forms of communication they use within that culture can still differ. One famous example of differences in communication styles, occurred when George Bush Senior toured Australia in 1992 and flashed a V sign for victory from the back of his limousine to the crowd. What President Bush failed to realize was that the correct way to give this sign (as popularised by Winston Churchill) is with the palm facing outwards. President Bush gave the sign with the outside of his hand towards the crowd, which in Australia means up yours mate or go fuck yourself. So when communicating with people from other cultures, always make sure that what you consider to be a friendly gesture is not actually an insult to someone else.

ACTIVITIES
Match the pictures to the correct gestures. 1. shake hands 2. bow 3. point at sth/sb 4. make a face 5. twiddle 6. shrug 7. cross your fingers 8. clench your fist 9. wink 10. stick your tongue out 11. clap your hands

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