Communication is the basis for exchanging information. Clear communication is important to our understanding of the information. However, people do not all communicate by the same means and there are different ways to communicate. Communication can be verbal and nonverbal. Verbal communication refers to the sharing of information through words. It can vary depending on the pronunciation and stress of syllables, tone of voice, inflection and other mannerisms. Nonverbal communication is the signals we send to others without words, but rather through our body language. The different types of nonverbal signals include: facial expressions, touching, body movements and posture, gestures, eye contact, voice, and space. These different styles can lead to differences in interpretation and are often influenced by culture. The effects of the interpretations can lead to a positive or negative outcome.
While in Greece, I noticed many of the differences in nonverbal communication as compared to the United States. Every conversation was filled with bold hand movements, close spatial zones, touching of the shoulder and hands followed by loud cheerful conversations. In Greece, you will rarely see a conversation that does not have at least one of these characteristics. Due to this type of communication, the Greeks would be considered high context communicators. High context communicators simply means that the individuals within the conversation rely on the context of the conversation rather than just the words themselves. High context communicators tend to build more trust, understanding, and empathy towards one another. Therefore explaining why the Greeks are such loving and hospitable people.
On the contrary, the citizens of the United States tend to be more low context. Low context communicators tend to rely on verbal communication, to them what you say is what you mean. There are some nonverbal expressions that will be used in conversation, but not many. I personally tend to overuse facial expressions, eye contact, tone of voice, and body movements. However, the use of touching is rarely observed in the United States. In fact, before leaving for Greece we demonstrated this type of nonverbal communication in class. During the demonstration, I frantically yelled “NO!” at my classmate, Brooklyne, when she attempted to hug me. This incident would never occur in Greece and if it did it would be viewed as rude. However, if you’re anything like me, an awkward occurrence is bound to happen in Greece due to their fondness of touching. For instance, when saying goodbye to one another, most Greeks prefer to kiss on both cheeks. Of course, being the awkward individual I am, I blurted out to Takis’ sons “I’m a hugger, no kisses here”. Being that they have had many experiences with Americans due to the other groups of Mrs. Myhand’s students, they just slightly laughed then respected my decision to be a hugger.
If you would like to avoid gaffes like the ones I experienced in Greece, follow these helpful tips to get you through your travels:
- Be respectful
- Be kind
- Eat all your food…seriously JUST DO IT!
- “Efxaristo” (thank you) should be your favorite word!
- Be a hugger — teach yourself to like it!
- Be cautious of your facial expressions. Smiles are nice.
- Put your phone down!!! Enjoy the conversation.
- Finally, observe the communication between Greeks…its truly amazing.
These tips should provide you a better insight to the way Greeks communicate, thus making your trip more enjoyable!