Chinese Nonverbal Communication

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Dec 15, 2009 21:15
Nonverbal communication is very important in our daily life. It makes up a large percentage of our daily interpersonal communication. Due to the different background and culture, there are different nonverbal communications in different countries. Thus, it is very useful and necessary for us to understand the basic nonverbal communications when we want to learn the other countries' cultures.
China, which is one of the largest countries in the world and the birth of civilization, is influenced by Confucius' philosophical thinking. So Chinese people are more reserved or at least the nonverbal communications are comparatively less expressive. Now I would like to introduce some Chinese nonverbal gestures in nonverbal communications.
First is about greetings gesture. When you meet your professor, you should lower your head and bend slightly to show respect. The same posture is also used when a young man is greeting an old man. And shaking hands is also a way of greetings. It is not used between people of radically different status, but between socially equal people, friends or businessman, or often nod of the head or slight bow which is also sufficient. But hugging and kissing when greeting are uncommon in China.
Second is about touching gestures. Generally speaking, Chinese are not a touch-oriented society (especially true for visitors). So avoid touching or any prolonged form of body contact if you are just strangers. But with respect to the touch behaviors showing intimacy, it may come as a complete surprise for foreigners to see that Chinese girls have such close physical contact with their friends of the same sex. Actually, here in China it’s quite common for girls and even young women to walk along arm in arm. Holding hands is not so usual, but rather common for girls in primary school or under. And personal space is much less in China. The Chinese will stand much closer than Westerners.
Third is about eye contact. When walking in public places, direct eye contact and staring is uncommon in the larger cities, especially in those areas accustomed to foreign visitors. However, in smaller communities, visitors may be the subject of much curiosity and therefore you may notice some stares.
Fourth is about beckoning gestures. To beckon someone, the palm faces downward and the fingers are moved in a scratching motion. Avoid use the index finger, which can be considered rude.
Last is about the other nonverbal gestures. One is posture which is really important, so don't slouch or put your feet on desks or chairs. The other is silence, which is perfectly acceptable and customary. Silence (Listening) is a sign of politeness and of contemplation. During conversations, be especially careful about interrupting.
Anyway, if you want to learn the culture of China, you may have better learn something about Chinese nonverbal communication, which would do great help for you.