Nonverbal language can speak volumes. In the article Sounds of Silence by Hall and Hall, nonverbal language is the topic. One thing I found interesting is the emphasis they put on the distance between speakers. When two friends or family members are talking it is not uncommon for them to stand/sit very close together. If two people who have just met were to stand that close together, it would probably be very awkward (in our culture, anyways).

When thinking about talking to my own friends I notice we stand very close together. Sometimes I will even go up to my friend and hug them before I say anything (mainly if I’m feeling crummy). It’s just our way. The more I get to know someone, the closer I let myself interact with them. I’ll play with they’re hair or put my arm around them while we’re sitting on the couch. It’s a gradual process that doesn’t happen right away. I’m completely aware that this takes time.

I’m also completely aware that I cannot do this with recent acquaintances. I may shake their hand and that is probably all the contact we will have. We will stand further apart from each other and talk in a more professional attitude.

I need to research the body language of Tibetans so I don’t seem rude to anyone I meet. I don’t want to shake someone’s hand if it’s seen as too much touching. I also need to research eye contact. I use eye contact a lot, but if they do not, then I don’t want to use it too much.


3 responses to “20

  1. It would be awkward if you stood close to someone you had just met to have a conversation. It’s strange how we don’t even really think about things like this in day to day life. We just naturally do them. We don’t decide, “Oh, I know this person a little better, so when I sit down on the couch next to them I won’t sit so far away as I did last time.” It just is normal. I can imagine how weird that would be to be in a another culture and have the norms be different, and to feel very awkward just because you haven’t ever thought about things like eye contact and distance before, but what you expect is being violated and you think there is something wrong with these people, when really it’s just a cultural difference. I’m glad we got to read this article so we can be aware of it! 🙂

  2. If someone wanted to learn about the proper proxemics to maintain in their relationship with you, what research would help them? Are there more reliable ways to determine what people need or expect from you than reading books? What skills might be helpful in acting appropriately when crossing cultures?

    • Well, someone could hang out with me and my friends and see how we interact. If they really wanted to do “research”, they could look up “proxemics of close friends” or something like that. Or they could ask me, “do you have any personal space boundaries with your friends?”, to which my answer would be “I most certainly do not!!!” and I would initiate them into my circle of friends by playing “the awkward hands game”.

      I understand that I need to be observant in new cultures when learning about proxemics. It would also be helpful to be considerate of other people and not just barge into their personal bubble unannounced. When I build a more friendly relationship with someone I will see what their proxemics are towards me and I will follow suit. Perhaps I could even ask someone what are the culturally acceptable boundaries between acquaintances, friends, families, etc.

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