communication in Japan
Nonverbal communication is usually understood as the process of communication through sending and receiving wordless (mostly visual) cues between people. Messages can be communicated in different
ways, so there is a list of different types of nonverbal communication, which
are considered to be:
Body language (or
Becoming aware of nonverbal signals helps you improve your ability
to control these elements in your own communication.
Talking about Japanese
nonverbal communication, we should understand that this country is totally
different. Sure it’s not only about the process of communication itself. The
culture, traditions, behavior of people, mental behavior differs from the norms
we used to face in our lives. There’s a lot of different features of nonverbal
communication in Japan, but I tried to mention most interesting and well-known ones to talk about.
Gestures an touch. Hand gestures are plentiful and useful, particularly when you want to
relay a message without drawing attention from those around you. In the office,
hand signs can invite someone to a drink or meal, tell others the boss is angry
or has a girlfriend, or simply explain that you've just been fired. In the classroom
students signal to each other "I'm sending a note", "I haven't
done the homework", "be careful teacher is watching", or a
hundred other messages not meant for the teacher. Therefore here are some
examples of gestures uncommon to us:
"Me?" ("Boku?" or "Watashi?") – A
combination hand and facial expression used in the same way as Westerners
pointing to their chest and asking "Me?", except the Japanese point
to the tip of their nose. This is a very common sign and is also accompanied
with signs of astonishment, false or genuine surprise, indifference, or joy,
depending on the situation.
The "Baka! (You Fool!)" head slap, meaning,
‘You silly person you, why did you do that?’. People may think it’s kind of
being rude, still in Japan it’s absolutely normal.
‘Come here’ (Chotto...oide)Used when calling someone towards you, this gesture
resembles a Western-style good-bye, often confusing foreigners. With a somewhat
limp wrist, flap four fingers in the direction of the person you want to
attract. Generally not recommended for superiors, it is still considered
preferable to yel
Writing Kanji (Chinese Characters)A form of thinking
out loud, or spelling out a message, Japanese often write with their finger,
onto the palm of their hand, on their thigh when sitting, or into the air. By
visualizing the character it helps to distinguish which character from several
with the same pronunciation.
Body language (or
Sitting on desks, Standing on chairs
think shoes are dirty. So they always take them off before standing on a chair.
Also, they do not usually sit on desks and tables. Recently some punk-dressed
students have started walking on chairs with shoes on and sitting on desks.
This is bold arrogant behavior designed to look fashionable, or rebellious.
Also I have noticed among students who have traveled in America, sitting on
desks can be a symbol of Western behavior and used in conversation classes to
also a lot of interesting facts about touches, which also considers
body language. Touching others, a sign of friendly affection in East European
and Mediterranean cultures, is generally a taboo and public displays of
affection, such as kissing or holding hands, are rare and are a serious
statement for young couples. If students need to attract the attention of
another student, particularly someone of the opposite sex and not a personal
friend, first they will try whispering politely and then gently touch a
shoulder, not too near the neck, or an arm, usually not on the hand.
Japan a physical relationship between a teacher and a student, at any grade
level, is always grounds for dismissal. Many teachers make a policy of never
touching a student and the friendlier the relationship, the cooler the body language.
Flirtation is a very delicate nonverbal series of eye and head motions, leading
to subtle ambiguous touching of the hand or other innocent contact. If a
teacher is not prepared to face the consequences, it is far safer to avoid
physical contact completely.
of exaggerated body language can be found in Japanese comic books, television,
and contemporary theater. There are also classical art forms, e.g., the tea
ceremony, Noh and Kabuki theater, Kyogen comedy, martial art, which have
contributed to the evolution of Japanese body language, as well as historical
and religious factors.
What about facial
expressions and eye contact, here are also
Japanese strive for harmony and are group dependent, they rely on facial
expression, tone of voice and posture to tell them what someone feels. They often trust non-verbal messages more than the
spoken word as words can have several meanings. Nevertheless most Japanese maintain an impassive
expression when speaking, there is also a row of different nonverbal
expressions that may contain some important meanings. Frowning while someone is
speaking is interpreted as a sign of disagreement. Expressions to watch out for include inhaling
through clenched teeth, tilting the head, scratching the back of the head, and
scratching the eyebrow.
eye contact, I can say that it is considered disrespectful to stare into
another person's eyes, particularly those of a person who is senior to you
because of age or status. Sure if you have a Japanese friends then it’s okay to
look in the other’s eyes and you shouldn’t consider the friends age (depends of
how strong and trustful your friendship is), but in any other case, and
especially business, you should follow all the rules of the nonverbal
communication to show you respect the opponent. It also considered that in crowded situations the Japanese avoid eye contact to
give themselves privacy.
also one really interesting thing about eye contact and the business cards.
It’s very important part of business communication, when people exchanges their
business cards with each other. Business cards are exchanged constantly and
with great ceremony. You should treat te business card’s
given to you as a new acquaintance. You should examine any
business card you receive very carefully. It doesn’t mean
to look at it for a couple seconds and to put it away. You should receive a
business card and start examining it no matter what it’s written there no less
than 30 seconds. As if you were really interested in the information written
down on it, or as if you were memorizing it. It means you respect the person
you deal with, and it’s considered to be really polite from you. Then you may
also give yor business card to exchange.