A Brief Analysis of Difference Between Chinese and American Non-Verbal Communication from Body Language Perspective
Since the range of non-verbal communication is too wide, this paper will start with body language. By comparing and analyzing the same behaviors, different meanings and same meanings and different behaviors, this paper finds out the roots of the difference between Chinese and American non-verbal communication. In this way, this paper shows how frequent the use of non-verbal communication it is and give the advice that to understand the difference between Chinese and American non-verbal communication should be based on the roots of the two societies.
Followed the footsteps of the previous studies with speculation of present research, this paper concludes that body language is the most popular style of non-verbal communication in intercultural communication. Further more, facial expression is used constantly among body language. Key words: non-verbal communication; body language; intercultural communication 3. 1. 2 The Classification of Non-verbal Communication There are four categories belonging to non-verbal communication. The first is body language which is the most constant style of non-verbal communication.
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Body language includes gesture such as palm up, eye contact, facial expression (smile, frown) and posture. The second is space language which includes territoriality, personal space (how far a distant to keep between other people) and seating arrangement. The third is paralanguage, including science, turn-talking and non-verbal sound. The last but not the least is object language, including appearance, dress and personal ornaments. However, non-verbal communication also has two parts: non-verbal means and non-verbal behaviors.
Space language and object language belong to non-verbal means. While body language and paralanguage belong to non-verbal behaviors, which will be discusses in details as following. 3. 3. 3 Facial expression Researches have found that facial expression is born with humans, not from learning, including happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust (the six basic emotions). Facial expressions are recognized by most cultural groups and biological-based nature of facial expressions, from culture to culture as having the same meaning.
Despite the meanings people attach to them may differ. Example is: when someone feels angry, his eyebrow will get slouch and keep in a frown. His mouth will keep tight as a line. From the chart, we can see the difference meanings between Chinese and American non-verbal communication even in the same behavior. So, we should have to learn and have better understanding on the Chinese or American culture in order to behave appropriately. Otherwise, the delicate differences will easily cause misunderstanding and act impolitely so that the communication will be broke down even cut off forever.
This paper will analyze the cultural difference based on the current studies as followed. 4. 3 The Chinese and American Cultural Differences “Culture controls behavior in deep and persisting ways, many of which are outside of awareness and therefore beyond conscious control of the individual “(Edward T. Hall. 1973). Culture is like an iceberg, the explicit part, including behaviors, traditions, clothes, etc. is only 10% as the way of doing things. However, most part of culture is unconscious, such as beliefs, values and perceptions. The tacit part takes 90% as the way of thinking.
Therefore, this paper will analyze the cultural differences between Chinese and American with the speculation of Geert Hofstede’s five cultural dimensions. The dimensions are: 4. 3. 1 Individualism VS Collectivism Li Hua went to America for further study. On the first day, she met her roommate, Sarah, who looked very nice and pretty. Since then, Li Hua spent most time with Sarah and gave her a hand whenever she needed. One day, Li Hua ran into a big problem. She needed some money for the surgery which her brother needed. She thought her friendship with Sarah was so deep that Sarah would help her without hesitation.
Unfortunately, Sarah refused her ask. Li Hua felt very unset and confused. At that moment, she regarded Sarah as a traitor and decided to end up their friendship. Analysis: the above example well illustrates individualism and collectivism. In America, one’s duties and obligations toward friends have limits. People do not expect friends to assume burdensome responsibilities. However, in China, the duties and obligations between friends tend to be unlimited for all practical purposes. They think that friends often provide concrete helps and assistances.
That’s why Li Hua felt Sarah as a traitor and broke up their friendship. What a pretty! 4. 3. 2 High and Low Power Distance Another dimension of the two cultures is the issue of human inequality. Hofstede has created a power distance index to assess a culture’s relative location on the power distance dimension. Li Hua faced another problem during university life. She finished homework according to teachers’ command even examinations, but she only got C in the final exam. She felt unfair and thought the teachers discriminate against foreign students.
Analysis: this is a typical conflict by the different understanding of power distance. In America, people are in the low-PDI cultures. They regard independence as very important, the education system itself encourage students to ask questions, to solve problems creatively and uniquely, and to challenge the evidence leading to conclusions. In China, because of the high-PDI cultures, people are expected to comply with the wishes and requests of their teachers, and conformity is regarded very favorably. That’s why Li Hua could not get an excellent mark in the examination.