young woman texting on the subway

Non-verbal behavior

A person with high CQ action: non-verbal behavior is comfortable adapting their non-verbal behavior. This means you are very natural in using culturally appropriate non-verbal communications such as gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions.

The first step to improve your CQ non-verbal behavior is to become more aware of diverse non-verbal behaviors. You then learn to imitate or avoid them when there is a need to do so. This is the same as developing a repertoire of non-verbal social skills. Notice how the Chinese hand you a business card or the degree the person may bow slightly when shaking your hand. Notice the degree of separation or personal physical space that diverse others take when conversing. Notice the use or nonuse of eye contact. Is there a lot of gesturing? What gestures are used?

The second step is to try practicing or imitating these non-verbal behaviors. Copy or imitate the manner you noticed when you hand a Chinese person your business card. Notice how a Chinese person handles your business card with great respect after receiving it. You should do the same and not just casually stuff their business card into a random pocket. This is a way to non-verbally give offense to a person from the Chinese culture. Use imitation in a balanced way. Culturally diverse others do not expect you to totally non-verbally behave properly in their culture. They expect you to be different in some non-verbal ways. Show some wisdom in what and when you adopt a diverse non-verbal behavior. You do not wish to appear to be mocking the other culture.

Eliminate the non-verbal behaviors that are taboo in diverse cultures. There are many tips offered in books on travel. Use the internet to discover what is not acceptable in some cultures or countries. If there is a specific culture you will experience for a longer time period, spend a great deal of time ahead of time learning the cultural non-verbal behavioral taboos. For example, a man might not shake the hand of a devout Muslim woman. Showing the soles of your feet or the use of your left hand are taboo in some cultures. Do not photograph or touch a religious symbol. Do not touch someone on their head. In some cultures, it is not acceptable to take a picture of another person.

In comments, please share a non-verbal behavior to practice or one to avoid in a diverse culture. Discuss the contributions of other learners and mark this step complete.

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Develop Your Cultural Intelligence

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