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IMPACT OF NONVERBAL IN INTERNATIONAL IMPACT OF NONVERBAL IN INTERNATIONAL IMPACT OF NONVERBAL IN INTERNATIONAL IMPACT OF NONVERBAL IN INTERNATIONAL
BUSIENSS BUSIENSS BUSIENSS BUSIENSS
COMPARISON OF COMPARISON OF COMPARISON OF COMPARISON OF
EASTERN EASTERN EASTERN EASTERN AND AND AND AND WESTERN WESTERN WESTERN WESTERN CULTURE CULTURE CULTURE CULTURE







Khairunnisak Latiff, MBA

And

Leow Chee Seng, PhD


Published By
Human Behaviour Academy, UK


Human Behaviour Academy, UK

Contents



1.0 Introduction................................................................................................................................. 2



2.0 Eye .............................................................................................................................................. 3



3.0 Facial expressions ...................................................................................................................... 8



4.0 Touch .......................................................................................................................................... 10



5.0 Hand ............................................................................................................................................ 13



6.0 Arm ............................................................................................................................................. 17



7.0 Feet.............................................................................................................................................. 19



8.0 Conclusion .................................................................................................................................. 23



9.0 Reference .................................................................................................................................... 24
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1.0 Introduction


In this day and age, businesses are going global and reaching out to foreign markets to expand
their market share and growth. Thus, learning about international business strategies is as
essential as learning on foreign culture as culture also varies from one country to another. Thus,
culture may affect business dealings. In addition, culture does embed on how a community
communicates with each other which includes verbal and nonverbal communication.


Nonverbal communication involves all those nonverbal stimuli in a communication
setting that are generated by both the source and his or her use of the environment and that have
potential message value for the source or receiver (Samovar, 1981). In this paper, perception of
two cultures mainly Middle Eastern and Japanese will be explored based on five elements of
body language which are eyes, facial expressions, touch, hand, arm and feet. Data are gathered
based on interviews conducted with Mr. Abdullah and Miss Yumi, former classmate and
colleague of mine.



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2.0 Eye



First aspect of body language that this paper will look into is the eye. In business context, how
each looks is perceived by Middle Eastern and Japanese such as below:


Looking up




In Middle Eastern culture, they perceive looking up while talking is that the person is
disinterested in the conversation. Thus, while having business dealings, points of interest that
may attract them should be focused on directly in order to attract their attention. As for
Japanese, looking up is perceive as thinking or trying to figure out what are you talking or
topic of discussion. Thus, descriptive inputs should be given to better assist them to grasp the
idea.
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Looking down

Looking down while having conversation is perceives as preoccupied and something bothers
them in their mind in the Middle Eastern culture. Hence, time should be given in order to
continue with the conversation. For Japanese, it is a sign of unhappy and unacceptance of the
topic of conversation. Hence, impressive result should be relayed in order to capture
interests.



Looking sideways

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Disinterest on the conversation would be the perception of Middle Eastern if another party is
looking sideways. This perception is similar with Japanese culture as it is also perceive as
boring and not interested. Thus, try to avoid looking sideways when having conversations
with Middle Eastern and Japanese.




Looking away

It is disrespectful to look away while talking to someone
in the Middle East and it is a sign of disappointment in
Japan. Hence, avoid looking away as it gives negative
perception in this both cultures.






Squinting

For both cultures, squinting is a signal of you is thinking perhaps trying to digest on the
conversation. It is sometimes a positive signal as you are thinking but may turn to be a
negative one as it may give a signal of you do not understand what the other person is saying.
Therefore, try to use this signal to indicate that you are thinking but not too much as it will
give a negative signal.


Staring

In the Middle East, Staring is perceive as
having confidence on the topic that you are
talking about but perceive as a sign of
dislike if staring is too long added with no
conversation is going on. However in
Japan, staring is perceive as upset or do not understand with what the other party is talking.
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Winking

Avoid using this body language when dealing with Middle Eastern and Japanese as it is
perceive as rude and disrespectful towards the other party. However, in a casual, men to men
and knowing years long, winking is used for fun after telling a joke in Middle East.


Long versus short eye contact

In Middle East, long eye contact is used while communicating with the same gender such as
men with men. It is to show confidence and interest on the conversation. However, it is rude
and insensitive to have a long eye contact with the opposite gender. Thus, short eye contact is
being used with opposite gender to show respect. For Japanese culture, long eye contact is
used to pressure the other party. As an option, eye contact and other gestures are commonly
used while communicating while for short eye contact it is perceive as low confidence level
and shyness.




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3.0 Facial expressions






















Next aspect is how Middle Eastern and Japanese perceive each types of facial expressions range
from the eyebrow, nose, ears and lips such as below:


Lowered eyebrow

Lowered eyebrow is a signal of something is bothering that person in Middle East culture.
Thus, try not to interrupt. In the other hand, it is a signal of unpleasant and uncomfortable in
Japanese culture. Thus, try changing your idea or getting into a better environment, perhaps
change the venue of discussion is held.


Raised eyebrow

As for raised eyebrow, Middle Eastern and Japanese perceive it as surprise. However, in
Middle Eastern avoid raising eyebrows with saying indication of do not understand such as
Huh? as it is perceived as rude.

Nose expression

In the Middle East culture, touching nose is indications of wanting to voice out something
but could not to. Try to give ample chance for them to voice out or comment. In Japanese
culture, touching nose is indication to release stress gain while communicating. For this
situation, try to give the other party ample time for them to relax.


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Ears expression

For Middle Eastern, they perceive this as the other party is dragging on the same idea and
taking a long time to talk. Consequently, you should stop talking and give chance to another
party to say something. For Japanese, they perceive this as boring. Consequently, you should
try to get into other ideas perhaps try to get suggestions when the other party is using this
expression.


Tight lips

Commonly tight lips are an indication of wanting to voice out but could not in Middle East.
Thus, the other should ask on the persons opinions and give chances for him to voice out
and relay his thoughts. However, in Japan, it is an indication of disappointed or hopeless.
Thus, if the other party is using it, perhaps you disappoint him.


Loose lips

In Middle East culture, loose lips are signal of nothing to say; neither an agreement nor
disagreement, perhaps loss of ideas whereas in Japanese culture, it is a signal of sulk. Hence,
try to capture the attention by asking opinions on the topic or suggest fresh ideas.


Licking

It is weird to suddenly lick your lips while having conversation in the Middle East culture.
Thus, try to avoid it. Conversely, in Japanese culture licking lips are good as it is sign of
thinking or searching for other ideas.

Yawning

Yawning is signal that commonly associates with boredom. Middle Eastern and Japanese too
have the same perception of yawning is a signal of boredom, disinterest, and sleepy. Thus,
showing this sign of body language while talking or discussing is rude.


Chewing lips

This nonverbal act it perceive as not paying attention by Middle Eastern. So, try to avoid
doing it while communicating with them and try to get them to focus or capture their
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attention by changing to new, interesting topic if the other party is using this nonverbal act.
On the other hand, Japanese perceive it as thinking of alternative ways and searching for new
topic of ideas. So, it is good as they are eager on searching for solutions.


Sneer

Avoid this nonverbal act when dealing with Middle Eastern as it is recognize as looking
down towards other party perhaps disgusts of other party in extreme cases. Japanese also
share the same perception as Middle Eastern towards sneer as it is signal of rude, unserious,
childish and look down on you. Therefore, try to impress the other party if they use this
indication.


4.0 Touch



Touch is the next aspect discuss as either to touch or not to touch, handshakes, embracement and
self-touching as below:

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Hand shake

A hand shake is common when two
parties meet each other. It is to show
acknowledgement and respect. It is
also a preference by Middle eastern to
shake hands only to the same gender.
For opposite gender, do not handshake
as it is prohibited. However, for
Japanese, they prefer to have bows
instead of handshakes especially to the
first timer who they meet. Handshakes
are only use for the persons who they know and met before. In addition, each level of bowing
brings different meaning and perception in Japanese culture. Thus, it is good to know the
meaning of each level of bowing before communicating with them.


Half embrace

For Middle Eastern, they perceive half embrace as equality. These gestures are usually used
when they achieve agreements. As for Japanese, they perceive half embrace as to show
acknowledgement. Usually, the person use half embrace is a higher position individual such
as superiors.














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Full embrace

Middle Eastern do not really use full embrace whereas Japanese perceive full embrace as
having close relationship or for business context, it is gestures to express success.


Waist embrace

In business context, both cultures do not poses this gesture as it is observe as having intimate
relationship.



Self-hugging and mouth touching

In Middle Eastern culture, it is perceived as listening carefully whereas in Japanese culture, it
is perceived as thinking. Thus, try to present or talk wisely as they are listening and trying to
capture the topic of discussion.



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Self-hugging and face touching

These gestures added with looking at you is perceive as the person is waiting for you to end
tour sentence in Middle East culture but if self-hugging, face touching added with looking
away is perceive as thinking. Nevertheless, in Japanese culture this gesture is used to release
stress and to comfort oneself. Therefore, you should give space for the person to distress and
be comfortable with the idea and environment of discussion.


Self-hugging and ears touching

For these gestures, Middle Eastern distinguish as disinterest of the conversation. Try to
change topic or ideas when encounter these gestures. While for Japanese, they perceive these
as thinking and wondering. Try to give detailed explanations when encounter them with these
gestures.




Covering face

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Covering face is a negative indication for both cultures as it is indicated as Please stop
talking. for Middle Eastern while it is a disagreement indication for Japanese. Thus, try to
avoid doing these gestures while communicating in both culture contexts.


Touching forehead

Touching forehead is used as to relief that the discussion is over in Middle Eastern culture.
This indication may be used negatively as the discussion was a bad one and the person feels
so much relief. Be careful while using this gesture. As for Japanese culture, it is distinguish
as regretful. Perhaps there are better ideas and ways, thus, by expressing this gesture they
regret that they did not choose the better ones. Try to please or comfort if you see them doing
forehead touching.


5.0 Hand



The other aspect is hand which includes positions of palm, fingers, thumbs, hand gestures, types
of handshakes which are as following:


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Palm up

For both cultures, palm up is perceived as a good and polite gesture to ask for something.
Thus, use this gesture in order to request for something from the other party in both culture
contexts.




Palm down

For Middle Eastern, they recognize the palm down as
enforcement on doing something such

as You have to do this. For Japanese, they
recognize this as an instruction too and it is still
categorized as a polite gesture as compared to
pointing finger. Avoid using palm down as it is
indication of forcing and giving instruction to other party which may not be appropriate in
business dealings context.



Pointing finger

Do not use pointing finger when talking in both culture as it is observe as rude, impolite and
disrespectful to other party.


Thumbs up

In most culture thumbs up indicates as good and job well done as well as in Middle Eastern
and Japanese cultures. Use this to acknowledge good ideas and doings.


Genital framing

As for Middle Eastern, they remark this gesture as having confidence on doing something.
This gesture may impress the other party. However, as for Japanese, they remark this as
having over confidence which may be in appropriate to express it as it indicates as boastful.


Hands crossed

Middle Eastern culture perceives hands crossed as a negativity which is a
defensive signal or not giving the other party to suggest anything as well as
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Japanese culture perceives it as rudeness to show disagreement, unacceptance and refusal.
Prevent hands crossed when dealing in both culture surroundings.




Hands in the pockets

Do not use this gesture in the Middle Eastern culture since they perceive hands in the pockets
as over confidence and boastful as well as in the Japanese culture since they too perceive it as
boastful and disrespect of the other party.


Hands behind the back

Hands behind the back gesture is normally used by the authorities such as police officers in
Japan as to show masculinity while in Middle East it is use to confront someone. Prevent
using this gesture especially for the first meeting as it will give undesirable perception.

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Hand to neck

Hand gesture which stroke one selfs neck is recognized as tiredness and stress gesture for
both cultures. While having business discussion, do not use this gesture as it shows that you
are exhausted and may not focus on the discussion.


Dominant , submissive or equality
handshake


While reaching out the other party hand for a
handshake, usually in Middle Eastern, they
will use the submissive handshake to express
their respect towards the other party and one
both hands touch each other, they use equality
handshake to show agreement and respect. As
for Japanese, they do handshake just not as
frequent as bows and they too use equality
handshake to show respect.










Hand rubbing

Discomfort is the perception of hand rubbing in Middle Eastern culture whereas it is rude to
use hand rubbing in Japanese culture. Do not use this gesture as it brings negative
impression.









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6.0 Arm











Elaboration of perception towards arm gestures in both cultures is discussed in this paper and it
is as follows:




Arms crossed

This gesture is recognizing as defensive in Middle Eastern culture and
hostility in Japanese culture. Due to that try not to use this gesture while
dealing with them and try comfort and excite those who use this gesture
with appropriate ideas.


Arms crossed and fists clenched

As compare to arm crossed gesture, the arms crossed and fists clenched is also perceived as
defensive added with controlling anger in Middle Eastern culture which parallel with
perception in Japanese culture. If someone possesses this gesture, it is a bad indicator for the
other party. Thus, beware of this gesture and try to please them. Also, avoid doing it.


Arms crossed and thumbs up

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Arms crossed and thumbs up gesture are a friendly and openness signal in Middle Eastern
culture. Thus, one should try to deliver more information as they are accepting
recommendations and ideas. Yet, in Japanese culture, it is a signal of anger. Thus, beware of
this signal as you must have upset them.






















Arms Akimbo

Akimbo is perceived as powerful and taking in charge for Middle Eastern while Japanese
perceive it as a rudeness signal, not serious, not interested and refusals. Avoid expressing
Akimbo since it brings negative indications.


Hood effect

In Middle Eastern culture, hood effect is remark as comfort whereby the party is comfortable
with his surroundings despite the fact that in Japanese culture, it remarks as disgust of
something.


Open arms

Open arms gesture often related to positive impression. Likewise, Middle Eastern perceive it
as friendliness and Japanese perceive it as welcoming and having good confidence.
Accordingly, one should use this gesture to welcome them and along the way of negotiations
to show agreement.
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Failing arms

Perception Middle Eastern towards failing arms gesture is not feeling guilty such as It is not
my fault. whereas, perception among Japanese is having pride and confidence.


7.0 Feet



Last aspect of body language to be discussed in this paper is feet gesture which includes crossing
legs and ankles and placement of feet such as the followings:






Leg crossing

Leg crossing is a norm in Middle Eastern culture whereby males or females may exercise this
gesture but is consider as rude in Japanese culture as it is a sign of disrespect whereby they
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normally avoid doing it and will sit with both leg place nicely above the chair with feet on
the ground.




Ankle crossing

Ankle crossing portrays
comfort in Middle Eastern
culture which is a good sign.
In Japanese culture, since
leg crossing is a sign of
rudeness so does ankle
crossing. Avoid using this
gesture.









Foot locking

You may display foot locking in Middle Eastern culture as it is perceive as comfort to show
that you are comfortable talking to the other party and with the subject too. However, do not
display this gesture in Japanese culture because it is a symbol of childishness and it is rude.


Foot jiggling

Foot jiggling shows that the person is not focusing on the discussion in Middle Eastern
culture plus do not show this gesture and try to gain the attention of the person doing it by
emphasizing the crucial main points. In Japanese culture, avoid doing foot jiggling as it
shows that you are nervous and under stress situation. The other party may not impress or
have the confident in you.



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Dominant legs

Avoid demonstrates dominant legs with negotiating with both cultures because they perceive
it as having too much comfort and relaxation which possibly inappropriate for business
context purposes.


Loner legs

For business purposes, loner legs are unsuitable to be displayed in both cultures. As for
Japanese they perceive it as a bad manner likewise as for Middle Eastern perception of being
unserious.


Escaping legs

Corresponding with the name this gesture, Middle Eastern perceive it as you are about to
leave whereby you are advise to end the conversation and let the person leave and continue
other time. Nevertheless, Japanese perceive it as sign of bad impression towards you which
you must aware of and try to capture their interest along the conversation.


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8.0 Conclusion



In conclusion, body language perceptions varies from one culture to another and it is crucial to
learn about it as it will be a useful tool to have an idea of the state of mind of the listener during
business negotiations, talks and discussions. From that, you can react accordingly and convey the
right message at the right time. Also, you can avoid using bad perception gestures which may
offense the other party. It also may portray your manners while communicating. Indirectly, you
too bring along and portray your own culture. All of these require awareness, knowledge,
understanding and adaptation.



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9.0 Reference

Leow, C.S., Vincent, L. (2013). Body Language Exposed. Manchester: Human Behaviour
Academy

Samovar L. A. (1981). Understanding Intercultural Communication. London:
Wardsworth Publishing Company.
1

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