Visual Communication vs Written Language
Visual communication is affected more strongly than written language by the cultural background of a person. While languages can have many different types of complexities, and some words and phrases simply do not translate well from one language into another, the subtleties of hand gestures and facial expressions contain a myriad of potential for misunderstanding (Gilsdorf 1997, 21). For example, in many cultures nodding the head up and down means ‘yes,’ but in some cultures it means ‘no.
‘ Not knowing this could put a traveler or a business person at a serious disadvantage. It could even cause legal trouble and other problems that could be difficult to sort out quickly or easily. It is also more important to be aware of the subtleties of visual communication because it is often much more immediate. Written language can be studied and thought about, and the meaning can be sought after. With visual cues, a person often does not have the time to think about how he or she might want to respond.
A response is required almost immediately, and that does not leave a person as much time to process the gestures and facial expressions. There is far greater room for misinterpretation. In the business world, this can be especially serious because of the potential for misunderstandings about finances and other aspects of a deal (Gilsdorf 1997, 32). Anyone traveling to another culture or country for any reason would be wise to learn some of the language, but he would be even wiser to make sure that there is a good understanding of the facial expressions and hand gestures that are used there.
The same is true of posture, eating customs, and other visual cues that could potentially insult someone. Many people understand and overlook cultural differences, but the more a person attempts to blend in and do what is appropriate, the more that person will generally be appreciated.
Bibliography Gilsdorf, Jeanette W. “Metacommunication Effects on International Business Negotiating in China. ” Business Communication Quarterly 60 (1997): 20-37.Sample Essay of Essayontime.com