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Looking, watching and scanning people

  1. Nov 20, 2004 #1
    Well, being living in the middle east for the most years in my life, I was "aadjusted" to many social staff the the people there have, like [Not staring] too much at people from the opp sex. sth they call it "lowering the gaze" when they speak , avoiding long eye-contact with opp geneder while speaking....etc I almost had a fight with a guy cuz i was looking [too long] on his sister face while speaking to her...even it was AT ALL with bad intentio [as he claimed that it was, falsly] "yeah..she was not my type.."

    And them i came to the U.S and it is different, REALLY different in these issues, any basic advises about these issues...[When sth is disrepect...and sth is acceptable] I want to still myself...but a bunch of people says my attitdue like that could be offensive to some people...and i did not get it!!!

    Any help/comments?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 20, 2004 #2


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    Yes, I've noticed a number of cultural differences, not just of people from the middle east, but from Asia as well, that takes some getting used to on both sides. In the US, when talking to someone, you should look at their face, and they'll look back at your face. You don't necessarily have to look directly in the eye, but more to watch facial expressions. People expect to see reactions in their listener that show you are listening, such as some nods of the head when you agree, or smile that you think it's funny, or shrug of the shoulders that sort of says "what can you do?" Looking at someone's face is different than staring them down without blinking. That will make them uncomfortable.

    I think it's the complete opposite of some cultures. In the US, you show respect by looking at someone when they are talking to you; it shows you are paying attention to their words. If you are friends, you can talk without looking at each other (though you aren't in any way required to not look)...it's okay, for example, to talk while continuing to do something else. I've noticed this with men especially, they seem more comfortable talking about difficult issues while walking and looking forward, or while working on the car, or just doing something other than looking someone right in the face. So, basically, the more formal the situation, the more you should try to look directly at the person conversing with you.

    Another thing I've noticed different is the sense of "personal space" while talking. I'm not sure about people from the middle east, but I've noticed some folks from other cultures stand MUCH closer to talk than we're used to in the US. I find it feels very uncomfortable, but I try to keep in mind that it's just different cultural norms. When talking to someone other than the best of friends or close family member, usually the distance about the length of your arm separates people in conversation.

    I'm trying to think of any other little etiquette tips that might help you in adjusting to life in the US.

    Handshakes vs hugs: In business settings, you always open and close a meeting with someone with a firm handshake, whether they are male or female. In business, men and women are treated completely equal. In social situations, however, men still greet with a handshake, unless they are related, when they might hug and give a pat on the back, but it's more variable with women. Some women hug friends or give a light kiss on the cheek, others stick with handshakes, others just do nothing and say hello and goodbye. There isn't a strict rule on this, but according to proper etiquette, which isn't always followed by most people, the man waits for the woman to initiate/indicate the proper greeting, such as she extends her hand for a handshake, or opens her arms for a hug, or stands with her arms to her side. In theory, men and women shouldn't be treated differently, but in reality, there still are differences. Nobody will get mad or offended if you automatically offer your hand for a handshake to a woman, so it might be the safest approach.

    Probably it will take more effort on your part to look at women while talking to them, as this is probably uncomfortable for you, than it is for someone of your acquaintance to get used to you looking down while talking to them (just don't look at their chest the whole time or they will be VERY offended! :rofl:)

    Does this help?
  4. Nov 20, 2004 #3


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    Moonbear's description is amazingly accurate for ... oh, she is an American. :redface:

    Americans generally look at the speaker's eyes while listening and minimize eye contact while talking. In other words, while talking, the speaker checks the listeners' eyes to see if the listener is comprehending what they say instead of maintaining constant eye contact. Women tend to check for feedback more often than men.

    This post was made kind of tongue in cheek (I was thinking at least one person would ask how someone learns to dilate their eyes at will :rofl: ), but a couple of the links actually do give some good info on non-verbal communications (page 75, post 1112): https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=9520&page=75&pp=15

    The worthwhile links from the post are below:
    http://members.aol.com/nonverbal2/diction1.htm#The%20NONVERBAL%20DICTIONARY [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  5. Nov 22, 2004 #4
    Well, since i am not from the middle east " Yeah i am from here, US!" but i most of my life there..when i went to UK to an international school for tow years in Wales...I felt some country side womne "I was doing community serive to help them in thier farms" was feeling uncomfortable while i was looking at them..or may i was wrong...

    This what lunched the Q's at the beginning on my head here, since i now the U.S is more conservative the Europe [being more Chirstian..and thus restrict more to the traditions..]

    Moonbear, i notice the same thingy about the sapce which the middle east people make it too close which i feel uncomfortable about it [Yea, i love the orbit arounf me to be "empty"]

    But you know what? Ususally they look "down" and sinces the distance is "too close" they end up looking at the chest sometimes ALL the time :rofl:

    What really pissed me off to the max sometimes is people think i am "too shy" cuz i do not make that eye contact..specially girls..while i still thinking it is a good way of respecting the opp gender..[Well, i am a man...and i WILL be offended if a girl is "scannig" me...i just showing indirectly that this is NOT GOOD...but if i am a girl... i will hesitate using my High Heel shoes machinge gun on the skulls :devil: :devil: :devil: ] :rofl:

    So, what about men..any thing will be "offended" for American men in the same issue?
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