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Societal Norms & Miscommunication Essay

  • Submitted by: jlzamnyc
  • on February 17, 2012
  • Category: Social Issues
  • Length: 846 words

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Below is an essay on "Societal Norms & Miscommunication" from Anti Essays, your source for research papers, essays, and term paper examples.

As humans we are all connected as a single species, we share DNA and physical features, but what sets us apart from each other, are norms “cultural standards or guidelines that enable individuals to distinguish between appropriate an inappropriate behavior in a given society.”(Kottak 2012).   They have also been described as the "customary rules of behavior that coordinate our interactions with others." (Young, 2007) Norms can be stated through the use of symbols, for instance, a red octagon with the white letters S-T-O-P means come to a full stop or they can be implied, like the universal assumption that green means go.   However, when these rules are not explicitly stated great confusion can occur.   Nowhere have I seen more than in the world of business where our nonverbal behavior can say a lot about us.  
I was 16-years old when I first came to experience such a misunderstanding.   I was working at a flower shop as a cashier when the store manager took me aside to ask me if I was stealing.   I of course, wasn’t but was fired anyway.   Apparently he saw my inability to meet his eyes when he questioned me as a sign of guilt.   This wasn’t the case at all!   In my culture—Ecuadorian—it is considered rude and disrespectful for a girl to make eye contact with a man unless he is a close relative.   I later learned that in the United States business setting, eye contact is important and can mean many different things such as signaling a wish to participate in a meeting.   People who want to interact usually make eye contact and smile.   Eye contact can also control and persuade others.   Other people make a deliberate choice to not make eye contact with someone they are unhappy with while making direct contact with everyone else.   At sixteen I began to understand the notion that nonverbal expressions could differ in meaning from one culture to another, even from one situation to another.   However, I still didn’t completely get the notion that we don’t know the implicit norms...

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