Nonverbal Communication and Cultural Differences

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Nonverbal communication has always played an important role in the entire communication process. It may include gestures, kinesics, haptics and other means, which a person incorporates into the communication process. These acts make the communication process more effective and meaningful. However, nonverbal communication is highly influenced by cultural differences as the context of the culture defines how the message is interpreted. This essay will analyse several types of nonverbal communication such as proxemics, haptics, kinesics, semiotics and paralinguistic. It will also analyse the messages conveyed by these nonverbal communication types in different cultures and their impact on the non-verbal communication process in relative cultural contexts.

Culture has always been a driving force in understanding nonverbal communication as nonverbal communication is highly influenced by the cultural differences as the context of the culture defines how the communication/message is interpreted in certain cultures. “Communication occurs within a context but the context is particularly important in relation to non-verbal communication” (Tyler, Kossen & Ryan, 2005, p.185). Culture defines the messages perceived by the non-verbal communication. For instance, proxemics. “Proxemics refers to the spatial relationship or how we use space.” (Tyler, Kossen & Ryan, 2005, p.190) Culture plays an important role in defining the use of one’s personal space in the nonverbal communication process. For example, in North America people usually remain at a distance from one another when talking while Latin American people stay very close when talking. (Wood, 2009). This defines the use of the privacy or personal space in two different cultures. H...

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