Chinese Nonverbal Communication Customs

Do (Know)
  • The social culture of China does permit people to stand close to each other while talking. The reason for doing this is to show politeness, trust, and willing to fit in.
  • The natives show more affection to their same gender, for example, to their best friend. Males will put their arms over another male's shoulder, and females will hold each other's hand. This gesture shows that they are the best of friends.
  • If you feel that you being treated overly friendly by a Chinese person, then don't hesitate to yell "Boo" meaning "No" directly to that person.
  • Even though people stand close to each other, it does not mean that you can touch the opposite sex.
  • Couples do not show public affection to each other, but this tradition may change over time.
  • Do not use too much hand gestures when talking.
  • Don't show emotion when you are angry or mad. In Chinese tradition, only lower class people cannot control their emotion.
  • Don't ever touch a person's head (including children's) on any occasion. This is the most disrespectful gesture that you can do to an Asian person.
How to show affection?

As I mentioned before, Chinese people tend to stand closer than Western people do while talking, even when they are not crowded. One reason I can think of is because they do not have enough land, and that is actually one of the reasons to explain this behavior.

However, the main reason is that it is a sign of politeness and trust. According to Chinese social culture rules, if you stand far always from your friend or colleagues, they may take that you are unwilling to fit in and are unfriendly.

Chinese gesture

Chinese people will show more affection to the same gender than Westerners will. For example, if two men walk together who are close friends, they may put their arm over the other man's shoulder and stand very close (no sexual intention.)

The same goes for women. It is common to see two females hold each other's hands while walking down the street (and again no sexual intention.)

Even though people are standing close to each other that does not mean it is all right to touch the opposite sex. So if you are a woman who is visiting China, then don't think people standing close and touching means they are friendly (especially the men).

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Raphita Tobing