涂绍娟 华芳（西北大学现代学院 陕西西安 710130）
Abstract：With the fast development of science and technology, the communications between people from different cultures and countries are also increasing, which concerns not only language communication but also nonverbal communication. Body language is one of the major forms of nonverbal communication. Body language, as a cultural tie, is the most important part of nonverbal communication. This paper deals with the importance of body language in Cross-Cultural Communication by comparing body languages in different cultures and introduces the basic functions and meanings of body language.
Keywords: Nonverbal communication；Body language； Cross-cultural communication
Body language is a term for forms of communication by using our body actions or gestures rather than using sounds or other forms of verbal communication. With science, technology and economy develops, there are more chances for people who are from different cultural backgrounds to communicate with each other. We can communicate with others in different channels. Our thoughts can be carried out not only through verbal communication but also through nonverbal communication, such as body language. As a survey indicates, the 55% part of complete messages we express in life is conveyed by our body language. When we are involved in Cross-Cultural Communication, it is important for us to know something about body language, which can help us get right messages.
II、Functions of Body Language
Body language, like verbal language, is also a part of language. It is the way that people use to express and convey thoughts by using facial expressions and gestures. It is our natural ability to use body language to express ourselves, for it is convenient and fast. Body language is widely used in our daily life, to some extent, it is used more frequently and accurately than our words. A research shows that around 65% of all communication happens without the participation of words. It is body language that helps us a lot in Cross-Cultural Communication. We can express our real meaning by some small actions including our facial expressions, tones of voices, eyes and other body movements. The functions of body language are as follows: assisting, substituting and expressing or hiding emotional feelings. Body languages can strengthen our verbal language and make our words more powerful.
III、The Relationship between Body Language and Culture
1.Cultural influence on Body Language
Body language and culture have very close relationship. A survey shows that the simple language only accounts for 7/100, tone of voices accounts for 38/100, and the rest 55/100 language ingredient is conveyed by body language if one person wants to transmit complete information to outside. For example, we Chinese are fond of shaking hands with both hands so as to express our respect and enthusiasm. However, the case is totally different in Muslims. Those who are in Muslims think the left hand is dirty, so they do not use it to take food. In the United States, it is a sign of relaxing ourselves to cross our legs. But in Korea, people are forbidden to do that action. We are often trapped into the case because of the different cultural background. Hence, culture has a greatly impact on body language.
2.Comparison of body language in different cultures
Posture is a form that people use to pass message by dynamic and static posture in communication. Smiling and stretching out hands means welcome, frowning means disagreement and nodding means agreement. All these are parts of communication tools.
In different countries and district the same gesture may have different meanings. Take OK for an example, OK means agreement and everything is smooth and good in North America and Germany. However, it expresses money in Japan.
We cannot avoid touching others when we communicate with each other in our daily life. Nowadays, handshake has become the symbol of hospitality and friendliness, which is accepted by most countries. However, some differences also exist in the way of handshake. Some normal friends and acquaintances hate to touch others in American. Meanwhile, body touch is banned in lift.
(4) Eye contact
Eye contact refers to the meeting of the eyes in communication. Generally speaking, western people are used to maintaining eye contact in their communication. They hold the view that those who avoid eye contact in communication is a way to show his lack of interest for others.
(5) Facial expressions
Facial expression is the movements of muscles beneath the skin of our face. For example, we Chinese usually love expressing some much exaggerated facial expression when we meet some special things such as showing our compliment and sympathy to others. However, American people may have the view that it is a dishonest way to do that.
In conclusion, body language plays an important role in Cross-cultural communication. It is the richest nonverbal behavior among human beings. It’s very real, direct and rich, but it also is vague. It is these characteristics of body language that make it intriguing and cannot be replaced. Learning body language can add our cross-cultural knowledge and strengthen the ability to communicate with others in Cross-cultural communication.
 Seanor.The Skill of Cross-cultural Communication [M].Shanghai: Foreign Language Teaching and Researching Press, 2000
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