The international traveler must cultivate such an awareness, and attain an appropriate understanding of how his or her own status is likely to be perceived, and the communication rules governing that position. This study will list certain common methods of nonverbal communication and indications of when they may or may not be appropriate depending upon the society in question. Specific dimensions of social interaction with the potential to affect verbal speech will be described, with examples given for the ways in which various cultures may interpret – or misinterpret nonverbal actions which the business traveler may communicate innocently, but which have the potential to produce both confusion and hostility under certain circumstances to be discussed below. Touch. In certain Asian cultures, touching it may not be strictly forbidden, but the manner in which an individual is touched – and that part of the body where contact occurs may be significant. Some Asian societies consider it highly inappropriate to touch another individual on the head except during the most intimate, familial circumstances. This is due to historical and/or religious assumptions that the head represents a sacred section of the body. The Westerner might view such contact as assigned of genuine affection, but which is likely to be misinterpreted. Alternatively, in Middle Eastern cultures the perception of the head as being sacred may not exist, but great sensitivity may be expressed in regards to how another individual initiates touch. Specifically, the left-hand in Middle Eastern societies is considered unclean, due to the habit of utilizing it as a matter of bodily hygiene. Therefore it is...
The author of the essay begins with that in an increasingly interconnected age of global communications and cross-cultural exchange, it is essential to supplement our awareness of the behaviors of other cultures with a broader comprehension of the ways in which communication techniques differ. As the world grows smaller and increasingly interconnected, rules concerning nonverbal communication for the international traveler becomes simultaneously more relevant, and less important. The world traveler with an interest in meeting with a wide range of individuals from many different cultures must learn to familiarize him or herself in with the fundamental expectations of that society, and take great pains in order to prevent the violation of social norms. Without a consideration of the value of nonverbal communication, the most brilliant discourse may be overshadowed by the norms that have been violated.
Alternatively, as greater numbers of individuals engage in international travel and regularly communicate with others from different walks of life and different societies greater tolerance for the communication practices of other countries will be understood. As a consequence, while the inept international traveler is likely to give offense through ignorance of these social norms, in an increasingly interconnected world the degree of offense will diminish. This trend should continue as various societies come to appreciate the different worlds each of us comes from, and how those worlds are growing increasingly interconnected.