Apr 16, 2012

Finnish vs Chinese nonverbal communication

I made another assignment about differencies in Finnish and Chinese culture. I interviewed my husband about nonverbal communication and here is an extract from the text;

1.      Are there any differences in the body posture between your culture and the Finnish culture? What is customary to your culture? For example, when communicating with other people.

In business communication, Chinese people try their best not to display any emotions to counterparty and hence avoid any kind of specific body postures. Chinese people think that showing your deep interest to the business in hand will lower the possibility of negotiating the price. In Finland people tend to be more honest with their feelings and tell sooner that they are interested in making a deal.
2.      Are there some hand gestures that have different meaning in your culture and in the Finnish culture? Has it lead to misunderstandings? Do you use hand gestures differently when communicating people than Finns do?

Chinese people have twelve different hand gestures to show numbers from zero to ten. Number 10 can be shown by crossing both index fingers in a "", which is a Chinese character for ten. This can be misunderstood in Finland as negative gesture or ‘stop’ when checking the price. Number 6 is shown with the little finger and thumb extended, which in Finland would mean ‘call me’. With number zero the fist is closed, which can be seen as threatening posture. With number 2 the index and middle fingers are extended, which in Finland is only used mainly when posing in a picture.

3.      What are the differences in facial expressions when communicating with other people? Are people more or less expressive in this matter in your culture than in the Finnish culture? How do you use facial expressions to convey meanings, emotions, etc. in your culture?

4.      Are there differences in eye-contact? Or are there other differences when it comes to looking at other people, either people you do know or people you don't know? For example, in Greece it is customary to look at people in public places, in Finland it could be considered weird.

As said earlier, Chinese people don’t want to show their emotions, especially with their faces. They have absolutely no facial expressions in business communication. Another thing in China is that when you look other people in the eyes, you will show you’re being kind to them. So in business communication, you do not look into eyes because it would show emotions that Chinese people don’t want to express. Chinese people don’t even show face expressions when receiving a gift and put it away without opening it, but Finnish people open the present in front of the people who gave the gift and show happiness even if they don’t like the gift.

5.      Are there differences is personal space? Is the personal space larger or smaller in your culture than in the Finnish culture?

Finnish people need larger space than Chinese people. In Finnish stores the salesperson is giving more personal space for the customers, when in China the seller wants to appear more caring and friendly by being close and following the customer. Also many business contracts between Chinese people are made in dinner parties where people can sit very close to each other and get drunk together, which would be taken as unprofessional in Finland. Chinese people need to make relations with each other before making a deal, so the best way to make a good deal is to show your interest to the partnership instead of the deal itself in a dinner party and make your counterparty as drunk and enjoyed as possible. 

6.      Does your culture differ from the Finnish culture when it comes to bodily contact? How does your culture feel about bodily contact? For example, shaking hands, patting head, holding hands, kissing etc.

In Finland love partners are more open in the public. It has not been acceptable in older times for lovers to be holding hands or kissing each other in China public area, but is has become more common among new generation. But still especially men should not greet each other by kissing since they would be seen as love partners. In business meeting people shake hands before and after the negotiations.

Does anyone have anything to correct/add?

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