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The questionnaire was clearly subdivided according to the channels of non-verbal communication, to wit: facial expressions, the clues in our voices ("vocal paralanguage"), hand gestures, body movements ("kinesics"), touch ("haptics"), and personal space.
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FINDINGS The questionnaire was clearly subdivided according to the channels of non-verbal communication, to wit: facial expressions, the clues in our voices ("vocal paralanguage"), hand gestures, body movements ("kinesics"), touch ("haptics"), and personal space.
From the abovementioned channels, both Australians and Indonesians predominantly share the same manifestations of nonverbal expressions on facial expressions (winking, staring, smiling, demonstration of feelings), vocal paralanguage, touch and concept of time and distance; except on the following areas:
Facial Expression – Glance:
The respondents composed of 20 Australians and 20 Indonesians differ in perception of this non verbal expression. Australians look at the person in the eyes when they talk with each other even when one or the other is angry. Indonesians, on the other hand, prefer not to look at the person directly in the eyes especially when they are angry because it looks like a challenge for a fight or argument and it is perceived as impolite.
Vocal Paralanguage – Slower Tempo:
Slower tempo solicited diverse reactions from both sets of respondents. Australians do not see any special rationale for slower tempo while talking; while Indonesians slower their tempo when talking to give the impression of uncertainty.
Posture – Liking Posture and Slouching or Poor Posture:
Liking posture garnered different responses. Australians acknowledged an open body and arms position, leaning forward relaxed posture and tone as exemplifying liking. On the other hand, Indonesians do not resort to any posture when they like someone.
Slouching is acknowledged by Indonesians as so disrespectful while Australians see no other meaning to this.
Gesture – Counting:
Indonesians count using the index finger as “1”. “2” on the middle finger and the thumb will be number “5”. On the other hand, Australians generally count using “1” on the thumb, “2” on the index finger, “3” on the middle finger, and finally the little finger will be number “5”.
Physical Appearance:
When asked about the topic on their perception of physical appearance in relation to socialization, Australians responded that they are attractive but do not care about socializing. On the other hand, Indonesians relayed that they are not attractive but are still socially oriented.
DISCUSSION
The findings proffered interesting results on the abovementioned channels of nonverbal communication. The findings related to glance corroborated with previous research that Indonesians are aware that there exist hierarchy structures in their system thereby it is not normal for them to look at people directly in the eye even when talking to them. This could also be the reason for their acknowledgement of the use of a slower tempo when talking especially on topics they are uncertain about. Australians, on the other hand, have been accustomed to the principle of egalitarianism – confirming looking at the person they are talking to directly in the eye, not giving any special meaning for slouching, and not making any differences in slower tempo while talking.
Aside from these marked differences, the rest of the channels of nonverbal communication significantly showed similarity in interpretations and expressions among Australians and Indonesians despite cultural diversity.
However, it is also significant to compare these findings from those provided in the theoretical section. There were theoretical findings that were not confirmed as consistent with the actual results, to wit:
The ring or OK gesture was identified in the theoretical studies as meaning “everything is OK” only in English speaking countries. However, the sample confirmed that even Indonesians interpret this gesture the same way as Australians do.
The “V” sign was theoretically found to be an offensive sign by Curci. This was totally negated in the sample when both Australians and Indonesians interpreted it as a sign of peace.
The thumbs up gesture was also unilaterally understood as an OK signal contrary to it being perceived as an insult signal in a research by Gunawan.
Finally the no gesture was also confirmed by both cultures as being expressed as shaking the head from side to side; again contrary to Gunawan’s shrugging of the shoulders.
The rationale for this could be that the theoretical findings were already outdated and the universal concepts on gestures actually apply. This was validated by the findings solicited from the interview from the sample of 20 Australians and 20 Indonesians. However, it is an interesting study to increase the sample size to further confirm, if indeed, the same findings apply.
Further, the conditions set for this study should still be cross checked with those used in theoretical researches to confirm congruity in results. There are possibilities that the variances in
cultural expression and interpretations of nonverbal communication channels that were noted was not even representative of the whole population. The findings collected from the interview showed more congruence in nonverbal communication patterns among Australians and Indonesians as compared to diversity noted in theoretical discourse.
CONCLUSION
The distinct differences in non verbal communication patterns between Indonesia and Australia support the concept that cultural differences play an important factor in non verbal communication. The marked differences and similarities among cultures and nationalities about the relative value of speech versus silence, the relative value of talk versus action, of gestures, eye contact and importance of space or distance were exemplified in the cultures under study. Non verbal communication reinforces verbal communication in ways which are better understood by education.
By noting distinguishing characteristics of each culture, visitors and guests would be able to understand the meaning of non verbal communication channels. There are more similarities noted between the two diverse cultures than was previously averred by theoretical researches in the past – most especially in the area of understanding gestures. The results from majority of the samples indicated the prevalence of a more universal expression of non verbal communication channels displacing any deviant interpretation previously averred.
The relevance of highlighting the results would provide the opportunity for further research on the subject to encompass a larger sample to validate its veracity. For this purpose, the aim of finding the basic differences in non verbal communication channels as to provide a guide for individuals who plan to study or visit either country have been appropriately accomplished. Read More
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