Nonverbal Communication Across CulturesSamir BOUCHALKHASupervised by:Dr. Joseph Eric MasseyDecember 2017 Nonverbal Communication Across CulturesAim of the Literature ReviewThe main purpose of choosing the topic of nonverbalcommunication across cultures is to gain an understanding of the relationshipbetween the nonverbal communication, as a universally understood and recognizedmean of communication, and cultural differences.This literature review soughtalso to grasp the likeness and dissimilarities in nonverbal commutation anddemonstrate how culture influences nonverbal communication. In order to achieve these aims, thepaper will summarize the studies conducted by Peter A.
Andersen and otherauthors on the impact of cultural differences on nonverbal communication, andthe linking between cultures and nonverbal communication.As a human being, we need to communicate with each other in order toshare information, ask questions, express ourselves and so forth. So peoplecommunicate verbally by using words and sounds, they communicate alsononverbally by sending visible messages produced by some means other thanwords. Nonverbal communication serves not only to complementverbal communication, but it's used to legalize meaning and reinforceinformation.
The main difference between verbal and nonverbal communication isthe interpretation, because verbal communication is understood in the same waydespite geographic or cultural change. However, nonverbal communication isinterpreted differently, affected by the differences in cultural backgroundsand societal norms.Achieving the literature review's aim, which is theunderstanding of the relationship between nonverbal communication and cultures,Goes firstly through, a definition of nonverbal communication, determining itskey functions and its types. Secondly,through the study of the influence of cultural interpretation of nonverbalcommunication. Nonverbal Communication Defined Various and many studies had been conducted on the field of communication and especially nonverbal communication.
Many definitions are given to nonverbal communication by different authors and specialists: such as Matsumoto and Poyatos. Matsumoto defined the nonverbal communication as "the transfer and exchange of messages in any and all modalities that do not involve words" (Matsumoto et al., 2013). Nonverbalcommunication is considered as a key component which makes the discussion ofcommunication complete, so its plays the role of the complement to the verbalcommunication, or could simply accent a particular part of a spoken verbalcommunication. Nonverbal communication can be used also as a regulator forverbal communication, its helps to keep the verbal communication organized andthe conversation efficient. According to Poyatos (2002, p.
xvii), nonverbal communication is defined as "the emission of signs by all the nonlexical, artifactual and environmental sensible sign systems contained in the realm of culture, whether individually or in mutual co-structuration, and whether or not those emissions constitute behavior or generate interaction." According to Payatos' studies and other researches made in the field of nonverbal communication, culture plays a major role in guiding and modifying nonverbal communication.Functions of Nonverbal Communication Determining thenonverbal communication's functions might help us ruling out the doubt of themisunderstanding. In this field, many researches and studies had been conductedin order to determine the functions of nonverbal communication. Among themJandt who distinguishes the major functions of nonverbal communication: Substituting for verbal messages: Nonverbalcommunication can be used to substitute or replace the spoken communication byutilizing emblems, this function plays a key role when verbal communication isnot effective because of language barriers.
This function is commonly used in our daily lives especially whileexpressing some specific feeling like sorrow for losing someone, or whennonverbal cues are universally understood. Sending uncomfortable messages: Some messages are noteasy to express verbally, but they can be expressed comfortably in nonverbalways. This function is commonly used in our personal and professional liveswhen verbal communication would be disturbing. ( eg: Getting someone'sattention could be smoothly and politely expressed by a hand gesture ratherthan verbally.Assisting in making relationships clear: Nonverbal messages wesend and receive in our daily life could influence and affect our relationshipspositively or negatively, depending of our skills on encoding and decodingnonverbal communication.
Types of Nonverbal Communication Nonverbal communication, justlike language, is clustered into various types. John T. Warren and Deanna L.Fassett , concluded that there are a variety of nonverbal communication types,but according to theme there are five meaningful and useful aspects ofnonverbal communication which are : (1) Chronemics: "is the study of how time functions arepart of communication (John T. Warren, & Deanna L. Fassett , 2015, 158).
Peter.A. Anderson classified time into various categories including, biological,personal, physical and cultural time. (2) Haptics: "is the study of thesignificance of touch".
(John T. Warren, & Deanna L. Fassett , 2015, p 158). The touch isconsidered among the most efficient types on nonverbal communication, becauseit has a different interpretation depending on the context and it varies crossculturally as well: (touch a family member differs from touching a newacquaintance or a colleague…).
(3) Proxemics: "is the study of howpeople use space to communicate, including their relative (dis)confort withintrusions into their personal space". (John T. Warren, & Deanna L. Fassett , 2015,p 159). Understandinghow proxemic functions in nonverbal communication, goes through an examinationof proxemic distances associated to personal space, which is deeply related to people'scultural backgrounds.
(4) kinesics: " the study of kinesics addressesour gestures, movements, and facial expressions(John T. Warren, & Deanna L. Fassett , 2015,p 161). Its considered among the most keen forms onnonverbal communication, because it encloses behaviors like: (shaking hands,making eye contact, nodding, and so forth…). ( 5) Vocalics: "Thestudy of paralanguage, which includes the vocal qualities that go along withverbal messages, such as pitch, volume, rate, vocal quality, and verbalfillers". Culture and Nonverbal Communication Variousresearches and studies were conducted in the field of communication todetermine the linking between culture and nonverbal communication.
Thesestudies demonstrated a strong relationship and a clear influence of culture onnonverbal communication.Culture and Non-Verbal CommunicationAccording to Anderson, most nonverbal communicationsreflect a clear imprint of culture. In his research he points out the role andthe position of culture in nonverbal communication. "Culture shapes the displayrules of when, how, what and with whom certain nonverbal expressions should berevealed or suppressed and dictates which displays are appropriate in whichspecific situations" (Samorav et al, 2012, p 293).
So, many researches and studies on the linking betweencultures and nonverbal communication. Civikly(1991) reaffirm that "culture influences non-verbalcommunication significantly, and in the following ways: Firstly, people of aparticular culture act in a particular culturally acquired way in interpersonaland social settings". Andersondemonstrates, by offering a synopsis of nonverbal communication and itsrelevance to culture. He analyzes what he called "the eight basic codes ofnonverbal communication: physical appearance, space and distance, time, facialexpressions, movements, gestures, touch, eye contact and gaze, paralanguage,and smell". His studies show a real influence of culture of the eight codes onnonverbal communication, for instance, in physical appearance, which isconsidered as the most externally obvious nonverbal code, and covers relativelystable physical features of human being (gender, height, weight…). For example,hairstyles vary generally across cultures and across time.
According to Anderson, people with different culturalbackgrounds use dissimilarly the distance and the personal space (proxemics).This difference is clearly distinguished among people belonging to Latin andMediterranean cultures, who maintain close and short distance, and people fromEuropean and north Asian cultures who keep greater distances. Time, or theperception of time, is another component of nonverbal communication which isdramatically influenced by culture differences. The value that people give tothe perception of time and its interpretation changes and varies from oneculture to another. For instance, people with African culture backgrounds seemsto not care much about time and interpret it differently , compared to Europeanand north Asian cultures.
Finally, researches reveal that people who belong todifferent cultures have various facial expressions and different manners ofexpressing emotions. This difference is explained by the nonverbal "accent"contained in facial expression, which could identify the culture or thenationality of the expresser. Conclusion Nonverbal communication plays a keyrole in complementing, accenting and regulation verbal communication. It hasmany functions and types which makes it rich and challenging at the sametime. The reason why people should beaware of these challenges in order to communicate effectively.
The most challenging aspect ofunderstanding nonverbal communication across cultures is the interpretation,because nonverbal cues are deeply affected by the differences in culturalbackgrounds and societal norms. Each culture has its proper rules that affectthe people's behavior, in general and nonverbal communication in a particularway. Personally, and despite the studiesmade in the field of the influence of culture on nonverbal communication, Ithink that nonverbal communication across cultures still be a challenging fieldbecause it's deeply affected by culture which is in permanent change. References Mutsumoto, D.
, & Mark,G ., & Hwong, H.(2013). Nonverbal communication: Science and applications. Los Angles, LA :Sage publication.Waren.
T., & Fassett, D. (2015). Communication: A critical cultural intruduction. Los Angles,LA : Sage publication.
Samorav, L., & Porter,R., &, Mcdaniel,E. ( 2012). Intercultural communication. USA: Wadsworth CengageLearning.
Jandt, FE. (1998).Intercultural communication: An introduction. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage. Jandt, FE.
(2007). Anintroduction to intercultural communication: Identities in a global community.5th edition. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage.Poyatos, F. 2002.
Nonverbal communication across disciplines: Culture, sensory interaction,speech, conversation (volume 1). Amsterdam: John Benjamin Publishing Company.