Gesture in Communication

Gestures:

There are a number of gestures, used commonly, that may have a different meaning and/or be offensive. A common example is the use of a finger or hand to indicate “come here please”. This can be very offensive.

Touch:

While patting a child’s head or touching between opposite gendered individuals can be frowned upon.

Eye contact/gaze:

In mainstream Western culture, eye contact is interpreted as attentiveness and honesty. In other cultures, eye contact is thought to be disrespectful or rude, and lack of eye contact does not mean that a person is not paying attention.

Practising all of these skills will only improve them, and in turn improve your ability to communicate effectively in a much wider variety of situations.

Plan Your Message

If you know that you are going to have to present, or communicate, across a cultural divide then planning is vital. A common mistake is to over-complicate the situation, often leading to confusion for all parties. By considering the following, you will ensure the right message gets across.

Don’t try to say too much; pick three or four points you want to try and convey.

Keep your message simple; think about the key issues that you need your audience to remember and be concise. When you are writing them down, keep to as few words as possible.

Back up your verbal message; using visuals e.g. PowerPoint and accompanying hand-outs will ensure your audience have a written record. This will also give you written notes to refer to should you be struggling.

Follow these guidelines for all communications; if you using email, then keep your message short or it won’t all get read. If taking part in video conferencing, keep your notes in front of you and don’t take over the conversation.