nonverbal communicaion in China

One may say that by the influence of Confucius’s philosophical thinking, the Chinese have become more reserved or at least the gestures expressing emotions are comparatively less expressive. In China, couples do not show public affection to each other. It is preferred that people do not use too much hand gestures when talking. However, nonverbal communication traditions change over time. The young generation encourage themselves by that “if you love him/her, say it loud enough to let the world know”. But kissing in public is still considered “degrade social conduct”.

For greetings, when you meet your professor, you should lower your head and bend slightly to show respect. The same posture is also used when a young man is greeting an old man. And shaking hands is also a way of greetings. It is not used between people of radically different status, but between socially equal people, friends or businessman. Nodding of the head or slightly bow is also sufficient. Hugging can be used between close friends, but not usually with the opposite sex. Kissing is very rare for greetings in China.

One of the interesting Chinese nonverbal communication customs is the gestures for counting. The gesture for 1, 2, 3, and 5 are similar to the corresponding European gestures but the rest are different. For example, this is 6 .

Most of the counting gestures come from the Chinese characters for the numbers. The other thing that I noticed is “V”. In America, “V” stands for peace and friend, whereas in China or Japan, young people use the palm-outward V sign when posting for informal photographs. And it pronounces like “yay”, which also means something like “yay” too.


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