Chapter 8 - International Body Language

This chapter is to be a compilation of insights from body language experts that the author has met through a professional association. She spends quite a bit of time giving brief biographies of each, then presents their perspectives on a number of different common situations.

(EN: Much of this chapter is not so much about nonverbal communication as it is random tips for etiquette in various situations. Interesting but a diversion from the main topic.)

Greeting Behaviors

The handshake has become a universal business greeting, though there are a number of cultural variations in the tightness of the grip and the length of the handshake.

Business Cards

In the US, business cards are very casual - shared with any contact and handed out and accepted without much formality (EN: there are some rules of etiquette the author doesn't discuss related to business cards. See other sources.)

Time (Meetings)

Cultures vary in their perception of time - whether time is treated as a scarce resource or not, whether it is important to be punctual, whether it is acceptable to show impatience, etc.

Distance And Touch

Sentiments about distance and personal contact can differ considerably across cultures, but generally correspond to the degree to which business relationships are considered formal (with power distance) or informal.

Eye Contact

The rules of eye contact vary from one culture to another. In general, eye contact is regarded as aggressive, and is avoided when speaking with someone of a higher rank - but in more egalitarian cultures where status is less emphasized, eye contact is considered respectful.


Seating arrangements are largely focused on function and status: whether you are a guest or a host at a meeting, and what the rank and relationships between parties.

Emotional Display

The degree to which cultures are stoic or display emotion in formal business transactions varies. In emotive cultures those who are too stoic are seen as disinterested; in stoic cultures those who are too emotional are seen as unprofessional.


Gender is often derivative of status: in class-conscious cultures, women are generally regarded as being of lower rank, but in egalitarian ones they are treated as peers. There are a few exceptions.

Loose Bits

In her interviews with cultural coaches from various cultures, a few random bits of advice popped up that the author feels are worth mentioning.