Nonverbal Communication Differences between Chinese and America
One very obvious area of difference between Americans and Chinese in nonverbal communication is in the area of gestures, particularly gestures. However, in some cases Americans use different gestures than Chinese speakers for the same meaning. A circle formed with the thumb and index finger means "money" to Chinese speakers but "OK" to Americans. The thumb pointed up is a gesture of approval to Americans, but it represents a man or boyfriend to Chinese speakers. Also, sometimes similar or similar-looking gestures have different meanings. For the meaning "come here," Chinese speakers gesture with the palm down. This gesture looks similar to one that Americans use for "go away." (Americans use a palm-up gesture for "come here.") An American who is not familiar with the gesture that Chinese speakers use is likely to go away rather than come toward the speaker. Finally, there are a number of gestures that Americans use that are not used by Chinese. These gestures include circling the index finger beside the head (crazy); crossing the fingers (good luck); rubbing one index finger along the other (shame); pointing the thumb down (disapproval). There are also other nonverbal forms of communication that are as equally alien to one another such as Eye Contact. Americans maintain eye contact more than Chinese do. Looking down is a sign of respect in Chinese culture, but Americans may interpret looking down or avoiding eye contact as a sign of deceitfulness. This may cause misunderstanding, because an American might think that the Chinese person is hiding something or lying, while the Chinese person is trying to show respect. There are many more different areas of diversity between these two countries for nonverbal communication but these were just a few that would probably be the most frequently misunderstood.