Because we live in a shrinking global village, more and more people from different cultures are interacting with each other so it is important to learn appropriate gestures and non verbal communication to avoid conflicts or international business negotiation failures.
More than ever before, multicultural companies and organizations need to be educated and trained to the subtleties of non verbal communication, including potentially powerful gestures and even silence. Nonverbal communication is determined by our sociocultural environment. Some cultural differences relate to body language, body space, body touch and paralanguage.
The 93%/7% rule
Many people affirm that human communication consists of 93 % of non-verbal behavior and paralanguage and only 7% from words. I don’t say it is not true but most people who quote those numbers do not know where they come from. It is Albert Mehrabian‘s work done in the 1960s that is the source of these statistics but he later stated that this is a misunderstanding of his findings ! It seems to me that more recent studies should be used as references in human communication in today’s trainings, presentations or articles.
Although many people are aware of non verbal communication few scientific studies have been done in multicultural contexts. In many popular American shows, “experts” tell how to find signs that somebody is lying such as not looking straight in the eyes but what might be valid in the US culture may be considered very rude by people coming from other cultures.
In addition, with the global use of new technologies like video cameras on PCs , SMS and other mini blogging sites such as Twitter, research must be conducted on how those tools affect virtual cross-cultural communication and what the impact of non face-to-face body language.