Five Mistakes People Make Reading Your Body Language

Those are typical  mistakes people make all the time especially in a multicultural context.

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For example while I was working in Japan,  looking straight in the eyes of a Japanese business person would be considered as very impolite and aggressive.

It was also common to interpret  Japanese closing eyes during meetings as sleeping which might be true, but in most cases the person was concentrating on the English words.

It is  only by working and living  in a country long enough that you can get clues of culture-driven body language. On top there are also regional and individual specific body gestures.

Salutations are really cultural. For example  Americans will hug you even in business setting which can be embarrassing  for  Japanese who don’t touch and bow. The level of bowing is based on seniority the younger you are the lower you have to bow! In Europe kisses on the cheeks are common even at work and between same gender, two kisses in the south of France but 4  kisses for Parisians!

P.S. On Linkedin group: Linked:HR (#1 Human Resources Group) there is a discussion on body language  in interviews started by Shrradha Parekh and this video was submitted by Allison Dolan .



About Anne Egros, Executive, Career and Expat Life Coach

Zest and Zen is a blog about Expat Life Challenges, Global Leadership, Intercultural Communication, Health and Wellness, Nutrition, Change Psychology, Life Transitions
This entry was posted in American Culture, Cross cultural, Executive Coaching and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Five Mistakes People Make Reading Your Body Language

  1. FutureExpat says:

    It’s interesting, I’ve recently become fascinated with the US TV show “Lie to Me.” While the “deception experts” at the Lightman Group are very quick to jump all over the universal facial expressions — anger, contempt, etc. — they’re very careful with body language to make sure they understand the context. I hadn’t thought about it until just seeing this video.

    My takeaway on this is, as expats we need to arm ourselves with information in advance and then be hyper-observant of how people behave in the new culture.

  2. J. Scott Shipman says:

    Anne, Excellent post! Your note to Elena is well taken; the old saw 80% of all communications is non-verbal doesn’t have an peer-reviewed reference (that I can find). All that to say, body language and a thorough understanding is vital wherever one works. Many thanks for sharing!
    Cordially, Scott

  3. Additional resource about ‘Reading’ Other People’s Emotions Varies by #Culture:

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