A study of intercultural aspects of non verbal communication provides a glimpse into the numerous assumptions an individual usually makes when it comes to communication, as well as the differing meanings that can often be assigned to non verbal communication, depending on an individual’s culture. The fact that one form of non-verbal communication can be assigned totally opposite meanings in different cultures is actually quite eye opening. Further, the natural reaction an individual usually has towards the differing meaning is usually proof of ethnocentrism, and how essentially almost everyone is affected by ethnocentrism, to the point of even becoming offended when one suggests that the use of a certain gesture is prohibited within a particular culture.
For instance, in some cultures, maintaining eye contact is considered to be disrespectful, while in other cultures such as mine, it is actually encouraged, to the extent that not maintaining eye contact can actually be considered disrespectful and a sign of dishonesty. If I were therefore to come across an individual who does not maintain eye contact, I would have a very bad perception and opinion of them. This would be regardless of my knowledge of the existence of differences in the interpretation and practice of eye contact, implying a difficulty accepting the different cultural implications of maintaining eye contact. This difficulty accepting the fact that other cultures interpret non verbal signs differently is a classic sign of ethnocentrism of the highest order. Learning about the different interpretations of non verbal communication, I commonly use, but admittedly having a difficult time understanding these interpretations, is a sign of ethnocentrism, as it shows that I have come to accept my own interpretations and cultural views as the norm, and the alternatives as the abnormal, even though that may not be the case.