or informal. Formal rules are the speci cally taught dos and donts of
how to behave in common social situations, such as greeting people on
meeting, dress codes at various formal and informal occasions, table
manners at meals, etc. In contrast, informal social rules are not the spe-
ci cally taught ‘dos and donts’ or ‘hows and how nots, so they obviously
are more di cult to identify and are usually learned by watching how
people behave and then imitating that behaviour. Informal rules govern
how males and females are supposed to behave in public, where to ex-
change business cards, when it is appropriate to use a persons  rst name,
what  ower and colour of it should be given on what occasion, and so
on. When informal rules are violated members of a culture are likely to
feel uncomfortable, although they may not be able to say exactly why.
As discussed in the previous chapter, communication, especially its
non-verbal aspect, is extremely important when it comes to connecting
with other people, as it is considered more reliable than verbal commu-
nication when determining meaning.  is reliability, however, is valid
only when the communicators belong to the same cultures.  e simplest
of head and hand gestures can be interpreted di erently from culture to
culture, so interpreting non-verbal elements through the myopic eyes
of your own culture alone is de nitely not a good idea. For instance, a
simple thumb-up gesture can have amazingly contrasting connotations
in various cultures. In American culture it is understood as gesture for
hitch-hiking; in Australian culture it is seen as ‘obscene’ (if pumped up
and down); in Nigerian culture it is ‘rude’; and in German and Japanese
cultures it is seen as the signal for ‘one.
So it makes sense to deliber-
ate for gaining awareness of communication diversity by keeping track
of the non-verbal cues which get pronounced mainly through ones
body language (including facial expressions & kinesics or your body
movement), proxemics or your space language, haptics or your touch
language, paralinguistics or the intonation, pitch, pause, etc., of your
spoken language, and chronemics or study of the use of time. See
Fig. 12.2.
Body Language (Facial Expressions and Kinesics): Gestures help
members of a culture clarify confusing messages, but di erences in
body language can be a major source of misunderstanding during
cross-cultural communication. It would be unrealistically optimistic to
assume that someone from another culture who speaks your language
Soft Skill_12.indd Sec1:231Soft Skill_12.indd Sec1:231 4/28/09 5:18:54 PM4/28/09 5:18:54 PM

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