Jump to content

Menu

Talking with your eyes (or eye contact in different countries)....


Joan in GE
 Share

Recommended Posts

It was thinking about Cleo's comments about joining a group (in the Calling cats and kids thread), and then how greetings are different over here and actually how different 'eye contact' is....

 

it seems like people talk a lot more with their eyes...

 

but I'm still in the process of learning how to verbalize what it is really that I'm noticing and so thought if I put it out for discussion maybe people will have other observations that can help me understand...

 

So here are some questions...

 

When you are meeting a friend (of the same sex) - how much do you look in their eyes when saying hello? Do you try to see from their expression how they really are doing?

 

I remember how shy I was at looking people deeply in the eyes the first years here - part of the whole 'kissing thing' discomfort, etc...but now I'm thinking there are other aspects that go beyond the kissing or hand-shaking....

 

And then I've noticed that some European young people will do which is what in our (American) culture might be called 'staring' completely openly but not in a bad way if you know what I mean. There is a kind of openness and freedom that I just don't remember in the US or maybe I've been away too long??? But it's also not really done by the young French so much either...

 

This is communication that goes beyond language - and can cut across many cultures - but some cultures might misread the eye contact in other cultures if you know what I mean...

 

Anyway - here's hoping that someone else has some observations!

Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can not claim that I have noticed a difference with respect to eye contact - but yes, I definitely look people in the eye when I am talking to them, and yes, I evaluate their facial exp<b></b>ression to sense their moods. I would find it rude not to look at the person and definitely recall older relatives admonishing children that they must look at the person they are talking to.

 

It is not just people of the same sex, but people of the opposite sex, too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can not claim that I have noticed a difference with respect to eye contact - but yes, I definitely look people in the eye when I am talking to them, and yes, I evaluate their facial expression to sense their moods. I would find it rude not to look at the person and definitely recall older relatives admonishing children that they must look at the person they are talking to.

 

It is not just people of the same sex, but people of the opposite sex, too.

 

Thanks for answering regentrude! :-)

 

Here are some other aspects....

 

When just asking for help from a store clerk here - you have this acknowledgement of their person through eye contact then greeting.....I just don't remember that kind of thing in the US either....Store help will hurriedly show you this or that without that acknowledgement at a certain level of your person...

 

People talk about someone being 'bien dans sa peau' (more often than I remember such comments in the US and can't say I've heard it in the last 20 years on my visits home)....meaning that he's feeling good about who he is. And that is evaluated upon meeting this person and looking in their eyes....

 

I wonder if there is a difference in the East (US)....I just don't remember so much eye contact, nor a kind of listening way of being while looking at the person...

 

I know I would teach my children first to give a proper handshake - and only after years here and understanding greetings more would I insist on the eye contact when shaking hands, for example...

 

Also I'm curious about Muslim countries and culture where women have most of their faces covered....it seems like there would have to be even more emphasis on the eyes....

 

Anyway - maybe I'll have to wait for my next travels to make more comparisons...

 

Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm in Turkey and had to adjust my eye contact when I got here. It's ok to make eye contact with the same sex, but I had to learn to look at someone without looking directly at them for men. Direct eye contact with a stranger, particularly a man, is considered rude and too forward. It was weird at first, but now it's just second nature. I wonder what people back in the US think of me now. There's a lot of eye contact communication between women here. We will acknowledge something that doesn't really need a verbal acknowledgement with a distinct blink. Threw me for several years until I finally caught on. It's more common among older women but since I'm "in-between" in that respect I run into it frequently. There's a lot of non-verbal non-touch communication here that I'm still learning. I don't shake hands with men. I hug and kiss women (both cheeks).

 

Oh, while Turkey is a Muslim country, we don't have the head coverings and such that others may have. We certainly have women that wear them, but it's not required.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I spent almost an hour trying to post in this thread yesterday...

 

Over here people think they want direct eye contact, but they really want intermittent contact. I've been thinking the rules of eye contact are less important than the rules for not making eye contact. For example, it is not appropriate to stare at the floor when someone is talking unless they are your parent telling you off. Then you'd better be looking at the floor, as long as you raise your eyes often enough so you look like you are listening, lol.

 

I really hate talking to people wearing sunglasses.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In bed last night I was thinking that I had asked questions that are not so easy to answer - esp as individual observers. And then maybe it is just people groups within cultures that I'm noticing, ie subgroups. Ideally you would need a sociologist with a little counter button behind one way glass to be able to make the kind of tallys that would be needed to make the kind of analysis I'm wondering about.

 

But it's great to see that is not completely true because you all have added some observations which are really helpful...so I have hope. :-)

 

In the Netherlands you have 'something to hide' when you don't make eye contact when you greet each other. You don't make eye contact all the time, but frequently enough. In a job interview it is even more important.

 

I think I was taught that somewhere along the way - yet there are times when it seems inappropriate to maintain extended eye contact - especially with someone of the opposite sex....

 

I read in a book about the UK (from Dutch point of view) that in the UK it is supposed to be rude to make too much eyecontact. What we consider as 'normal' is consideres as 'too much' there.

 

This is really helpful loesje! I wonder if it applies to the Anglo-Saxon world? From Rosie's comment maybe that is true?

 

This also reminds me of the Xenophobes Guide to the X where the culture of a country is explained to a foreigner. But when the local of that country reads the book, they don't find anything unusual about the observed behavior. It is just so hard to see oneself from outside of oneself!!!....So it would be hard to recognize some aspects of eye contact unless you have contrasting situations....

 

I try my best to look people in the eye or at least at their face but I'm very farsighted so if they get too close to my face they look blurry and then it's very uncomfortable. I have had people get upset with me about it in the past (especially when I was a kid, I guess people aren't so bold towards adults). Now I at least understand why I do it. I'm not shy in the least, but I have problems with my vision. Anyhow, I have not noticed any difference when going to Germany nor with my husband.

 

I realize this is not your problem but it reminds me of when I would go around without my glasses/contacts and people's faces were a bit blurry. I ended up thinking it was making me feel misunderstood and isolated because I couldn't see 'empathy', agreement or anything. And I couldn't see when people were waving at me through their car windows (on my walk) unless they were really persistent and made it really clear. So now I'm wearing my glasses on my walks to make sure I don't reject someone's overtures unintentionally...because sometimes I have on contacts and can easily see them and wave back - but they wouldn't know that I wasn't waving because I didn't have my glasses on and couldn't see them....ok - you guys probably don't care about that :-)

 

At first I thought maybe there wasn't any difference when you went to Germany since you were married to a German (so would have been used to his ways), but then I remembered that my dh grew up in an area with a lot of German influence yet doesn't have the habit of looking so much...Were you mostly with relatives there? I remember someone on the board studied over there - was it cathmom or you or someone else?

 

I'm in Turkey and had to adjust my eye contact when I got here. It's ok to make eye contact with the same sex, but I had to learn to look at someone without looking directly at them for men. Direct eye contact with a stranger, particularly a man, is considered rude and too forward. It was weird at first, but now it's just second nature. I wonder what people back in the US think of me now.

 

The bolded part - do you look at the floor or to the side of their face or just down or ___? very curious here....I have traveled a bit in Muslim countries but wasn't observing this type of behavior at the time...

 

There's a lot of eye contact communication between women here. We will acknowledge something that doesn't really need a verbal acknowledgement with a distinct blink. Threw me for several years until I finally caught on. It's more common among older women but since I'm "in-between" in that respect I run into it frequently. There's a lot of non-verbal non-touch communication here that I'm still learning. I don't shake hands with men. I hug and kiss women (both cheeks). Oh, while Turkey is a Muslim country, we don't have the head coverings and such that others may have. We certainly have women that wear them, but it's not required.

 

This is really interesting.....I think women are freer in Turkey than in some countries....are they talkative in public or are they supposed to be quieter? You've made me wonder whether more eye talk happens in certain groups within cultures...You talk about the 'distinct blink' being more common among older women....

 

Completely unrelated question but related to Turkey - I got some 'dried dates' at a market so the package had no information - but the lady said they are dates from Turkey...They are SOOOOO delicious - large, soft, sweet....Do you know about different dates produced in Turkey? I tried searching 'dates Turkey' but got all these romance sites :-)

 

I spent almost an hour trying to post in this thread yesterday... Over here people think they want direct eye contact, but they really want intermittent contact. I've been thinking the rules of eye contact are less important than the rules for not making eye contact. For example, it is not appropriate to stare at the floor when someone is talking unless they are your parent telling you off. Then you'd better be looking at the floor, as long as you raise your eyes often enough so you look like you are listening, lol. I really hate talking to people wearing sunglasses.

 

Thank you for persevering Rosie!

 

rules for 'not making eye contact' LOL! and intermittent eye contact....I think that is what I'm actually used to, especially with a person of the opposite sex...But sometimes here is seems like men are used to more eye contact....

 

I figured it would be much the same in all English speaking countries, but I don't know.
It would be useful to find out....

 

Thanks everyone!

Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's 11:30 am here and I'm on my way out. I will take pictures, if I can, of the street scene here. Yeah, things are freer here. :)

 

As to the rest, I'll explain more later this afternoon when I'm back. I'll pay attention to what I do so I can explain it better. It's become such second nature that I'm not sure exactly what I do.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder if the techniques are the similar as I would use if talking to someone who is upset.

 

I know I don't look down much but tend to look past the speaker...For some though, this seems to make them curious about what I'm looking at and then they'll turn to look in that direction....Maybe I should be looking down - I'll have to try that...

 

I will take pictures, if I can, of the street scene here.
Looking forward to those..:-)

 

Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let's see how this works. I don't know how big these files are, if this will work, or what. First time doing this. These are pictures I took this afternoon. The first is of the waiting area at the ferry to cross the bay. The second is walking from the ferry terminal on the other side of the bay to the restaurant. The third is at the restaurant. I tried to get pictures unobtrusively so in most of them you can't see faces. That seemed more appropriate for posting. Anyhow, this is what it's like in Izmir. Admittedly, this is the city that is known as the "infidel" of Turkey - that is, the most liberal, most left wing, most secular (e.g., Los Angeles or San Francisco). I saw at least two girls/young women in SHORT shorts with tights on to keep their legs warm. The kind of shorts I wouldn't let my daughter go out in, even in the midst of summer, and she's only 5. It wasn't crowded today - it's Sunday and rainy so most folks were just staying in. We went to meet family for our regular Sunday lunch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I talk to people without making a lot of direct eye contact: I glance at them, and then look away. I keep my eyes vaguely moving. Usually I fiddle with my purse, inspect the merchandise, look down, look at the sky, look at the car, all sorts of things. Hard to explain. Quick looks rather than focused eye contact that would be perceived as direct in the US and forward here. I also don't talk to men a lot - no need, generally. If I am talking to a man, there's a good reason, like it's the building manager, the guy at the car wash, the bank teller, or the hairdresser (they are almost all men, for some reason). Those I look in the eye, but I'm maintaining a certain physical distance (except with the hairdresser) that keeps the conversation within the realm of propriety. I also look away with them, but it's more casual. Still my husband tells me to be careful, that I truly don't understand Turkish men. Maybe I don't. Now with close friends and family I don't really do this. I just talk.

 

I hope I'm making sense.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is really interesting.....I think women are freer in Turkey than in some countries....are they talkative in public or are they supposed to be quieter? You've made me wonder whether more eye talk happens in certain groups within cultures...You talk about the 'distinct blink' being more common among older women....And while I'm out in society as normal - the Christian meeting we attend might have distinctions in communication that make it more accentuated...For example, because we have a brethren style meeting - which at least for us partly means listening and quietness - people are very attentive and observant. This affects small group behavior and conversations.....

 

Completely unrelated question but related to Turkey - I got some 'dried dates' at a market so the package had no information - but the lady said they are dates from Turkey...They are SOOOOO delicious - large, soft, sweet....Do you know about different dates produced in Turkey? I tried searching 'dates Turkey' but got all these romance sites :-)

 

I forgot to answer these!

 

Women are very talkative in public with their friends. We just don't generally talk to strangers much, unless we're in an elevator, if I pick up someone's dropped pen, or there's a child involved. Turks cannot resist children. DD's been patted, pinched on the cheeks, and kissed by so many strangers it's ridiculous. When she was an infant waiters would take her from me and walk her around the restaurant showing her off to other patrons and each other. Yes, it freaked me out at first, but I learned that it's part of the waiter's job - gives the parents a break to eat and like I said - Turks cannot resist children. My British friend here has a red-headed infant and that's been funny. She gets taken and passed around in government offices! Back to women and talking - I never thought twice about it until you said something. We are a talkative bunch, just not with men we don't know. That's just not cool. Turks are also very jealous which plays into it.

 

When a child is involved, they want your life story. What's her name? How old is she? Where does she go to school? Oh my, I went there when I was a girl! My she's tall for 5, does she eat well? No? What are you doing about it? Yes, I know it's hard but you need to solve it. Oh look at her speak Turkish! How sweet! How wonderful she's learning, that you're living here. Isn't she just the sweetest! Where are you from? How long have you been here? How long are you staying? Is your husband Turkish? Where is he? Oh really? How funny! (DH is in America while I'm in Turkey.) Do you like America better or Turkey? Which people are more friendly? When is your family coming to visit?

 

That is a summary of an actual conversation I had this afternoon with a complete and utter stranger on the ferry. It ended only because we reached the stop. Here everyone is in everyone's business when it comes to kids. I like it, actually. Makes me feel like I'm part of a community. One thing I've learned living abroad is to embrace the local customs and go with the flow.

 

There are all kinds of dates here (of the edible kind as well as romantic!). I'm not well versed in them or their differences, but agree that they are very yummy!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The pictures came through really well - thank you for showing us a bit :-)....you would hardly know it is a Muslim country from the clothes or behaviour. Since it is a more liberal city then there could be cities where you wouldn't see this type of dress or behavior?

 

Quick looks rather than focused eye contact that would be perceived as direct in the US and forward here.

 

Those I look in the eye, but I'm maintaining a certain physical distance (except with the hairdresser) that keeps the conversation within the realm of propriety. I also look away with them, but it's more casual.

 

Now with close friends and family I don't really do this. I just talk.

 

Hmmm....so three different levels of interaction?

 

Would you say your behavior is similar to that of Turkish women as well? (just curious)

 

Thanks!

Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Turks cannot resist children.

 

We are a talkative bunch, just not with men we don't know.

 

When a child is involved, they want your life story.

 

That is a summary of an actual conversation I had this afternoon with a complete and utter stranger on the ferry.

 

Makes me feel like I'm part of a community. One thing I've learned living abroad is to embrace the local customs and go with the flow.

 

There are all kinds of dates here (of the edible kind as well as romantic!). I'm not well versed in them or their differences, but agree that they are very yummy!

 

Sounds like children are a great bridge for getting to know people there! - or at least for them getting to know you :-) So I'm figuring that was a woman asking all those questions? very inquisitive and open and talkative - even more so than the US....I guess you wouldn't have survived long if you were afraid of germs :-) It's neat how they enjoy children so much (makes me think about Europe and how much children are enjoyed here - besides one's own children)....

 

So do women tend to maintain eye contact when doing all that talking? laughing and smiling with the eyes in all the chatter?

 

That was a great recounting of the conversation!

Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The pictures came through really well - thank you for showing us a bit :-)....you would hardly know it is a Muslim country from the clothes or behaviour. Since it is a more liberal city then there could be cities where you wouldn't see this type of dress or behavior?

 

Hmmm....so three different levels of interaction?

 

Would you say your behavior is similar to that of Turkish women as well? (just curious)

 

Thanks!

Joan

 

The only thing that I've noticed is that the further east you go, or the further into the country, you do see more headscarves. In the country they are mostly a utilitarian thing, not religious. Further east it does seem (to me) that the scarves do have a more religious purpose. That could just be my limited perception, though. To me most of Turkey feels like Europe. The only full coverings I have ever seen were on women that did not appear to be Turkish. Their husbands were dressed Middle Eastern/Arabic style and except for one, they were all in airports. Even in Izmir, though, headscarves are showing up more on women. I'll stay out of the politics on that. It's complicated and fraught with minefields. But jeans, workout gear, etc. are all normal wherever you go.

 

Three levels of interaction. I never thought of it that way but yes, I guess so. Though my building manager still doesn't know how to talk to me. He always looks at me as if I have a third eye he really doesn't want to acknowledge. He'd MUCH rather talk to DH, but since he's not here, he's stuck with me. The fact that I'm here w/o DH in and of itself does tend to surprise people, but I think that's a universal thing. It's unusual, even for Westerners, to live apart like this without there being some problem w/ the marriage. We have an unusual situation.

 

I'm still more outgoing than most Turkish women, but I am trying to tone it down.

 

Your other email (forgot to quote it, sorry): yes, it was a woman on the ferry, with her female friend. DD and I were sitting in a section by ourselves. A high school/college girl joined us, followed by the two older women (60-ish). DD is quite exuberant on the ferry and was dancing around. I made a comment about it (not a Turkish thing to do) and the woman just took off from there. Yes, there was eye contact, laughing, smiling with the eyes.

 

And yes, it was all women in my section. That's not mandated by any means, but we do tend to self-segregate by gender (if we're just the girls out shopping). If it gets crowded on public transport then we'll mix, but we'd rather not. You used to be able to request a same gender seat mate on Turkish Airlines but I don't know if that still is true. I do know that if a little old Turkish lady is getting undone by the fact that she's been assigned to sit next to a strange man on a predominately Turkish flight (on another carrier), someone will move and help her out to avoid discomfort. Seen it happen. At the same time you'll see young couples making out on the ferry. It's a land of contradictions.

 

Yeah germs are something you have to not think about. That being said, just about everyone here is very fastidious. They wash hands when they come into your house, generally, and of course take off their shoes. Everyone carries tissues and you're not a proper Turkish mother if you don't have wet wipes in you purse for the kid's hands and face and any dropped toys. There is no 5 second rule here. And all restaurants have individual wet wipes for after the meal, or before if you need one.

 

I can't remember for sure but didn't a politician say that it took a village to raise a child? I just remember people saying they didn't want the village raising their child. Well, don't come to Turkey because the village will at least try and tell you how to raise your child. I go with it. I've learned they have valuable advice and when I disagree I pass the bean dip, discreetly.

 

Ok, I've monopolized this thread enough. So sorry! Can you tell I love my adopted country? Maybe just a little? :rolleyes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is my vision problem WITH my contacts or glasses. LOL

 

So the only thing left to focus on is body language.

 

So does life look like an impressionistic painting? It reminds me of an elderly lady who used to paint everything in focus....But her last painting of a scene in the dining room was all blurry.....She is too elderly to be able to remember painting it really but it turned out really nicely and her daughter thought it might have been due to her vision changes...

 

On a silly, not so related but sort of related note, I once had a really long one sided conversation with a very nice old man in a bar in Germany who didn't seem to notice I didn't understand a word he said. Either I'm really good at faking it or he was really drunk. Or maybe both. It was pretty amusing though. LOL

 

Maybe you had empathetic eye contact?

 

The only thing that I've noticed is that the further east you go, or the further into the country, you do see more headscarves. In the country they are mostly a utilitarian thing, not religious.

 

Three levels of interaction. I never thought of it that way but yes, I guess so. Though my building manager still doesn't know how to talk to me. He always looks at me as if I have a third eye he really doesn't want to acknowledge. I think that's a universal thing.

 

yes, it was a woman on the ferry, with her female friend. DD and I were sitting in a section by ourselves. A high school/college girl joined us, followed by the two older women (60-ish). DD is quite exuberant on the ferry and was dancing around. I made a comment about it (not a Turkish thing to do) and the woman just took off from there. Yes, there was eye contact, laughing, smiling with the eyes. And yes, it was all women in my section. That's not mandated by any means, but

 

we do tend to self-segregate by gender (if we're just the girls out shopping). If it gets crowded on public transport then we'll mix, but we'd rather not.

 

At the same time you'll see young couples making out on the ferry. It's a land of contradictions.

 

That being said, just about everyone here is very fastidious. They wash hands when they come into your house, generally, and of course take off their shoes. Everyone carries tissues and you're not a proper Turkish mother if you don't have wet wipes in you purse for the kid's hands and face and any dropped toys. There is no 5 second rule here. And all restaurants have individual wet wipes for after the meal, or before if you need one.

 

I can't remember for sure but didn't a politician say that it took a village to raise a child? I just remember people saying they didn't want the village raising their child. Well, don't come to Turkey because the village will at least try and tell you how to raise your child. I go with it. I've learned they have valuable advice and when I disagree I pass the bean dip, discreetly. Ok, I've monopolized this thread enough. So sorry! Can you tell I love my adopted country? Maybe just a little? :rolleyes:

 

:rofl: about the village trying to tell you how to raise your children....that was Hilary Clinton who wrote a book about that....I think we at least need community of some kind even if they are not our literal next door neighbors.

 

I like reading your posts about Turkey - no problem for me. I wouldn't mind a subtitle even - life in Turkey (I'm not a facetious/sarcastic person either) I think cross cultural observations help all of us look at our own culture a bit differently. And a personal experience explained the way you are doing it, is somehow much richer than a travel guide book...

 

So how long have you been in Turkey? I think some cultures are easier to fit into at first, then later people can get tired of them, and others are hard to fit into at first, but they eventually grow on you and then you don't want to leave....The second applies to me :-)

 

Oh yes - when you say 'utilitarian' concerning head scarves - you mean to keep warm, keep hair out of the wind, or .....?

 

Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I first came to Turkey 6 years ago. I lived here a year when DD was an infant, then came summers only until last Spring, when we came and didn't leave. We're sending DD to school here for language immersion and cultural/regular education. We want to live here long term so it seemed appropriate and necessary to start her education here. Turkish schools are more rigorous than American and we didn't want to move her here in elementary school and have her be behind her peers (and disadvantaged linguistically). DH is getting his PhD in the US so he needs to be there. Hence this strange situation. And homeschooling is not allowed in Turkey (at least not now. Complicated story).

 

Turkey was surprisingly easy for me to fit into. I thought of it as the American South, only more so. Of course I had my slips and I've had a lot to learn, but the people are so friendly, so welcoming. And I had DH and his family to guide me - that helped more than anything. I threw myself into learning the language (which is NOTHING like Romance languages). I worked hard to learn my role here. That may sound weird, but by learning what I was expected to do, I could figure out where the boundaries could be pushed and not pushed without repercussions. So, basically, I loved it immediately, and never want to leave. Even DH didn't expect my reaction to the country. He's still amazed at how "Turkish" I've become.

 

Utilitarian scarves - they keep off the sun and the dust, keep hair out of the wind, keep you warm, absorb sweat. Keep hair from falling in the food while you're cooking, hair out of your face while working. The are wrapped and tied differently than the religious headscarf, which hides the hair completely. A utilitarian headscarf will still show hair.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Turkey was surprisingly easy for me to fit into.

 

the people are so friendly, so welcoming. And I had DH and his family to guide me - that helped more than anything.

 

threw myself into learning the language (which is NOTHING like Romance languages). I worked hard to learn my role here. That may sound weird, but by learning what I was expected to do, I could figure out where the boundaries could be pushed and not pushed without repercussions.

 

So, basically, I loved it immediately, and never want to leave. Even DH didn't expect my reaction to the country. He's still amazed at how "Turkish" I've become.

 

Thanks for the explanation about the scarf.....

 

Sounds like you have completely embraced your new life ....very interesting point about figuring out where you could push the boundaries....So do you have a background in sociology or anthropology or similar that has made you more open? I can't say that I've heard of so many people really embracing a culture - but then it sounds a bit different in Turkey that they are open to foreigners who are open to them and then you also have the 'family' advantage....This is quite unlike the Swiss where you are a foreigner even if you were born and raised in the next valley (in Switzerland!)...I have it a bit easier than that living in a multicultural city rather than in a distant valley in some ways...

 

Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds like you have completely embraced your new life ....very interesting point about figuring out where you could push the boundaries....So do you have a background in sociology or anthropology or similar that has made you more open? I can't say that I've heard of so many people really embracing a culture - but then it sounds a bit different in Turkey that they are open to foreigners who are open to them and then you also have the 'family' advantage....This is quite unlike the Swiss where you are a foreigner even if you were born and raised in the next valley (in Switzerland!)...I have it a bit easier than that living in a multicultural city rather than in a distant valley in some ways...

 

Joan

 

Not even close! I was an accountant in my pre-baby life. I just like to watch people. I thought everyone who travelled abroad was like me. They aren't? Isn't that kind of the point of going abroad? To see the sights, observe the local scene, learn about different cultures?

 

I'll always be a foreigner here. There's no getting around it with some people, but I figure if I'm gracious to them, they'll eventually come around. It is their country, after all. I approached the French the same way when I visited Paris and found them lovely as well, which tends to make folks snicker. Oh well.

 

Switzerland sounds like Seattle. I never could break into the community there. People were so private and isolating. Cities are easier, I agree. I'd be at a much greater disadvantage if I was off in a village somewhere!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not even close! I was an accountant in my pre-baby life. I just like to watch people. I thought everyone who travelled abroad was like me. They aren't? Isn't that kind of the point of going abroad? To see the sights, observe the local scene, learn about different cultures?

 

I'll always be a foreigner here. There's no getting around it with some people, but I figure if I'm gracious to them, they'll eventually come around. It is their country, after all. I approached the French the same way when I visited Paris and found them lovely as well, which tends to make folks snicker. Oh well.

 

Switzerland sounds like Seattle. I never could break into the community there. People were so private and isolating. Cities are easier, I agree. I'd be at a much greater disadvantage if I was off in a village somewhere!

 

 

Ha, ha - I was really off the mark! :-)

 

I think it all depends on the conditions - when people come over with multinationals - sometimes the spouse isn't as flexible as their 'other', or doesn't learn languages as well, or the kids have trouble which makes it difficult.......Or someone married a Swiss person and then they end up in a place which isn't so open....I know a lady who lived in a village, near a big city, not off in the boonies, who after 10+ years, still didn't feel accepted...but then her husband had the accent of another Swiss city which doesn't get along with the one they are near (in the Swiss German part) and....well, you see how it can go...

 

But I think that it depends on the country and the person for village acceptance....how closed or open the villagers tend to be and how closed or open the person tends to be...

 

Sometimes people are just in the expatriate culture if the country has a well-developed one and the culture is fairly closed and the language is difficult...

 

Also it depends on how married you are to your own culture, your family ties, your friends, etc.......your culture's food...Whether you can laugh at yourself :-). It's one thing to visit and another to live in a place....But I'm really impressed with your adaptation!

 

Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You have such good points. I think I got really lucky with my conditions. DH came to the US as a teenager so he truly is multicultural. He sees the potholes before I do and warns me. I have been told I have a knack for learning languages (I would dispute that). DD loves Turkey, even if she's stubborn about the language (she just wouldn't learn it as a baby and DH backed off, leaving us where we are now). She's traveled between the two countries since she was an infant so for her this is a normal life. Also when we first came here I intentionally did not seek out the expat community, which exists, but mostly on the other side of the bay. To this day I don't have any American friends here, and made my first British friend this Autumn. Everyone else I know is Turkish. I will run into expats occasionally as my neighborhood is supposedly a hotbed of them, but we exchange pleasantries and go our separate ways. Just like in the US.

 

I grew up moving a lot as a military brat so that may have prepared me for this life. Constant school and home changes force you to be flexible, even if you are a painfully shy introvert (which I am). As far as being tied to my own culture, my own food, my own family ties - yes, that's hard sometimes, but I have American TV shows, Skype, FaceTime, Netflix, and Facebook. I wasn't living near my family in the US so this isn't too much of a difference (the time change does get in the way some). I get Glee and Fringe (and more) 48 hours after they air in the US. Nanny nanny boo boo! The one thing I really miss? Authentic Mexican (or Tex Mex) food.

 

What took you to Switzerland? Are you married to a Swiss man? Are you in the Swiss German part or elsewhere? I ask because my best friend hosted a Swiss German exchange student several years ago with whom we all still keep in touch. How long have you been there? How was your adjustment?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

when we first came here I intentionally did not seek out the expat community,

 

even if you are a painfully shy introvert (which I am).

 

What took you to Switzerland?

 

So do you feel less introverted now? It sounds like you are mixing quite freely in the Turkish culture....Could your shyness have been the reaction to all that moving?

 

We've been here 21 years now due to dh's job (though now he's retired and we don't want to leave). Geneva is in the French speaking part of CH, so I've only dabbled a bit in the German speaking part. But because there are more home educators in the German speaking part, I've been forced to interact a bit more...The language barrier is enormous though. And it makes it even harder that you can't just learn German (for which there are lots of language learning materials) - you need Swiss German as that is what they tend to speak at the meetings...

 

ETD personal info....

 

I used to miss my family and good libraries and some foods....Now that I've bought a ton of books (or would it literally be two tons?) I only really miss my family because my tastes have changed...It's funny - Mexican food is something I still miss - real tamales and tortillas are hard to make and though there is a shop - they are way too expensive....But I just made a crockpot version of tamale pie the other day which captured a bit of the corn treated with lime flavor...

 

Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

Hi Giraffe,

 

I am in Turkey too, we recently moved here. I am an American originally from Seattle (you mentioned Seattle in a previous post, did you live there briefly?) and my husband is Turkish. I am just starting to homeschool my 11 year old fifth grader. She is fluent in Turkish and we are homeschooling in English, with Turkish language as an elective. I hope to increase her Turkish language studies after we settle into homeschooling. Right now she just reads Turkish novels, write reports and studies vocabulary from the reading with her father. I try to listen in too and every now and then I also learn something.

 

I enjoyed reading your posts and find them to be an extremely accurate description of life here in Turkey. I especially liked the dialogue about the "life story" questions and the wet wipes for the no 5 second rule. ;-). Hearing these anecdotes lets me know that I do understand this culture and I am not being dramatic about situations (especially between women).

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just saw this; I love medjool dates!

 

Hillary Clinton was supposedly borrowing from an "African" proverb (the discussion on wikipedia is a bit amusing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It_Takes_a_Village ); she was not the originator of the phrase. Certainly many other cultures have a view of communal responsibility that does not preclude nuclear family responsibility.

 

I read a book about happiness (I am almost positive it was The Geography of Bliss) that said Swiss people were extremely sensitive to implications that someone was stupid, that even if you were on fire, a Swiss person would not say anything, because that would suggest you didn't know. Do you find this to be true? I have only met one Swiss person, and that was a classmate in high school whom I did not know very well and did not particularly like! But I never generalized him to all Swiss people. I did find the tone of Switzerland resident Susan Schaeffer Macaulay rather odd, in For the Family's Sake -- comments about forcing children to hike for miles, the joys of muesli, the superiority of a fruit crisp over a pie, and why children should be put to bed at 6 pm by the nanny so adults can dine alone, presented as a Swiss type perspective.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just saw this; I love medjool dates!

 

Hillary Clinton was supposedly borrowing from an "African" proverb (the discussion on wikipedia is a bit amusing http://en.wikipedia....Takes_a_Village ); she was not the originator of the phrase. Certainly many other cultures have a view of communal responsibility that does not preclude nuclear family responsibility.

 

I read a book about happiness (I am almost positive it was The Geography of Bliss) that said Swiss people were extremely sensitive to implications that someone was stupid, that even if you were on fire, a Swiss person would not say anything, because that would suggest you didn't know. Do you find this to be true? I have only met one Swiss person, and that was a classmate in high school whom I did not know very well and did not particularly like! But I never generalized him to all Swiss people. I did find the tone of Switzerland resident Susan Schaeffer Macaulay rather odd, in For the Family's Sake -- comments about forcing children to hike for miles, the joys of muesli, the superiority of a fruit crisp over a pie, and why children should be put to bed at 6 pm by the nanny so adults can dine alone, presented as a Swiss type perspective.

 

Stripe I'd like to answer you coherently as well as to the other posts on other threads but I'm sick in bed....After doing such a healthy diet since the new year, I end up sick even though I hadn't been sick for at least two years before this!

 

I'll get back to you and others soon, as I especially have to comment on the hiking thing...

Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just saw this; I love medjool dates!

 

Hillary Clinton was supposedly borrowing from an "African" proverb (the discussion on wikipedia is a bit amusing http://en.wikipedia....Takes_a_Village ); she was not the originator of the phrase. Certainly many other cultures have a view of communal responsibility that does not preclude nuclear family responsibility.

 

I read a book about happiness (I am almost positive it was The Geography of Bliss) that said Swiss people were extremely sensitive to implications that someone was stupid, that even if you were on fire, a Swiss person would not say anything, because that would suggest you didn't know. Do you find this to be true? I have only met one Swiss person, and that was a classmate in high school whom I did not know very well and did not particularly like! But I never generalized him to all Swiss people. I did find the tone of Switzerland resident Susan Schaeffer Macaulay rather odd, in For the Family's Sake -- comments about forcing children to hike for miles, the joys of muesli, the superiority of a fruit crisp over a pie, and why children should be put to bed at 6 pm by the nanny so adults can dine alone, presented as a Swiss type perspective.

 

 

That's interesting about the sensitivity to implications of stupidity....I've either completely missed it, or it's more a Swiss German trait than a Swiss French one (I'm in the French Swiss part). I'll keep my eye out now though....

 

Muesli isn't bad - my kids like it a lot...Fruit crisp - I thought these were borrowed from Americans? My experience has been more with fruit tarts which are pretty good - and probably healthier than 'pies'....the 6 pm bedtime - don't know anyone doing that - seems much more British...

 

I do have to talk about 'hiking'....I was clueless about this for years but after I finally realized, yes, it is possible to train children to be great hikers even when they are young, I was sorry that we hadn't done it.

 

You see young children, hiking way up in the mountains like little mountain goats - enjoying it! We carried ours :(. The Swiss must have thought we were crazy....You have to understand that elderly are out there in the mountains easily into their 80's. It's such a healthy past time - and so beautiful. So if they grow up hiking, then they keep on hiking....If I had to do it over again - they would have been hiking earlier....

 

:-)

Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

A few months ago, someone commented on how I was using my hands a lot to explain something to dd - they could see through the window from a following car...

 

Then in another thread where it was talking about visual learners, it mentioned that visual - spatial learners use their hands a lot when they talk....

 

Then more recently I was suddenly aware how much I use my hands while talking almost all the time - and how little other people here seem to....Is this partly a cultural thing??? or just a personal visual/spatial thing?

 

I don't want to start a new thread 'Talking with your hands' but I suddenly felt out of place here and realized that I must end up attracting attention when I'm being very descriptive about things.......

 

Thinking about this - I don't remember Chinese friends or friends from various other cultures using their hands when talking...are people trained to not make gestures? sit on their hands?

 

Wondering in GE,

Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm sure it depends on population density. If you socked someone in the eye every time you spoke, you'd learn to keep still, wouldn't you? :p

 

 

I use my hands a fair amount. I stutter, but sometimes can get what I want out in Auslan so I do that while I wait for my brain to find the English.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok...talking with your hands.

I remember as a child my CHINESE father was telling me never to use my hands when talking. He was pointing out/making fun of someone who was doing that. It was a Caucasian I think.

Maybe is it a cultural thing. Maybe it is too distracting. I am not sure. ( I talk with my hands now. I am Americanized.)

I remember teaching my babies/toddlers how to sign and my CHINESE mom was adamant I did not do that.

I think 1) she feared my kids would not speak normally 2) it would mean there was something wrong with the child (deaf) which is considered a bad thing in Chinese culture.

 

Eye contact in the Chinese culture--I think it is considered rude. Or at least it was for my mom and I. We are women so we were not really allowed to make eye contact with Dad too much and we had to walk behind him or actually Mom had to walk behind him. I was kicked and told to keep up with him. That changed when my brother was born when I was about 8yrs old. In general I was given the vulcan grip if I didn;t speak when spoken to and really not allowed to speak when not spoken to.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok...talking with your hands.

I remember as a child my CHINESE father was telling me never to use my hands when talking. He was pointing out/making fun of someone who was doing that. It was a Caucasian I think.

Maybe is it a cultural thing. Maybe it is too distracting. I am not sure. ( I talk with my hands now. I am Americanized.)

I remember teaching my babies/toddlers how to sign and my CHINESE mom was adamant I did not do that.

I think 1) she feared my kids would not speak normally 2) it would mean there was something wrong with the child (deaf) which is considered a bad thing in Chinese culture.

 

Eye contact in the Chinese culture--I think it is considered rude. Or at least it was for my mom and I. We are women so we were not really allowed to make eye contact with Dad too much and we had to walk behind him or actually Mom had to walk behind him. I was kicked and told to keep up with him. That changed when my brother was born when I was about 8yrs old. In general I was given the vulcan grip if I didn;t speak when spoken to and really not allowed to speak when not spoken to.

 

 

Thank you so much for posting! There hasn't been anything about Asian perspectives on talking with eyes or hands so it is very good to hear from you.

 

So interesting about signing with your children. I did that with my last two and found it so useful in helping them learn how to express themselves before they could talk. I don't think it made any difference for when they could actually speak as one spoke very early and the other very late but both were signing already at was it 6 months? I forget actually, just know that it was when they were sitting at the table but for one, definitely before talking which started before 1 yo...so estimating 6 mo...

 

And interesting that you couldn't make eye contact with your father even....I know how impressed I am when children will look firmly into adult eyes and I consider it a sign of maturity and self-confidence....

 

Such contrasts in cultural norms and what is considered acceptable...

 

So were you born in the US or did you go later in life? I'm curious how long it takes to be Americanized about talking with hand gestures...

 

Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I remember as a child my CHINESE father was telling me never to use my hands when talking. He was pointing out/making fun of someone who was doing that. It was a Caucasian I think.

 

Eye contact in the Chinese culture--I think it is considered rude. Or at least it was for my mom and I. We are women so we were not really allowed to make eye contact with Dad too much and we had to walk behind him or actually Mom had to walk behind him. I was kicked and told to keep up with him. That changed when my brother was born when I was about 8yrs old. In general I was given the vulcan grip if I didn;t speak when spoken to and really not allowed to speak when not spoken to.

And interesting that you couldn't make eye contact with your father even....I know how impressed I am when children will look firmly into adult eyes and I consider it a sign of maturity and self-confidence....

 

We are allowed eye contact. We are not allowed to stare. I grew up in the 70s in south east asia. Women and girls walk alongside the males in day to day life except in very traditional families. After all Philippines and Indonesia had female presidents. Wu Ze Tian was a female emperor. If I want to tell my hubby something in a public place, I can just use eye contact and he would get the hint. I also stare my nephews and nieces down with the "aunt is annoyed" stare.

Excessive or flamboyant hand gestures would be considered impolite but pointing/illustrating gestures are acceptable. So if I use my hands to show how big something is while talking, that is perfectly normal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Arcadia!

 

Just to discuss.....When you say 'we' though - it's a pronoun without an antecedent so is unclear who 'we' is - though you later mention SE Asia...A long time ago I lived in SE Asia for 4 years and did a lot of traveling in the region but can't really remember clearly, differences among some of the cultures in terms of eye contact...Still, there are a lot of cultural differences within SE Asia...if you just compare Thailand, India and Bangladesh (if you count those as SE Asia), China, Philippines, Indonesia....maybe you could talk in terms of one culture (eg there are Chinese communities in Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indian communities in Malaysia and Singapore)? The status of women in India is terrible (and probably therefore how eye contact with the opposite sex is perceived) - but they have had women in positions of power....so I'm not sure that women in power can really determine eye contact habits in a country....(and the US has yet to elect a woman)....

 

Just curious,

Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"We" is referring to hubby and me in my earlier reply. We informally refer to China and India as East Asia and Myanmar down to Indonesia would SE Asia (due to ASEAN).

India has a different cultural history than China even though both had dynasties. India has a caste system on top of being a patriarchal society. Marriage preference is still based on caste though less than historical times. The family names tells which caste a person belongs to. India would have a longer battle towards women having equal social status. Even in the Silicon Valley, it is still possible to see the effects of caste as well as inequality. I see indian women walking behind their husbands consistently. Indira Gandhi was the child of a political dynasty, a political heir so to speak. Megawati is the daughter of Indonesia's first president Sukarno. Corazon Aquino comes from a powerful political family and married into a powerful political family. She came into power during the People's Revolution. However Emperor Wu Ze Tian was a concubine who seized power and is powerful in her own right.

 

China while patriarchal has traditionally been a meritrocratic society. Chinese children were read stories (family and/or school) of the Yang women warriors, Mu Lan and taught about Emperor Wu Ze Tian and Empress Dowager Ci Xi. Lady trailblazers in any field do not get the look. Chinese sportswomen are culturally encouraged to bring glory to the country. Expectations of academic performance is not lowered for chinese girls. These is no excuse that girls are better at language and guys are better at math. Both genders have to excel according to their abilities. There is inequality as in how are we going to define equal. Among same rank engineers, I did not have to carry any load. I do not think it is unfair that my male collegues get a top up in pay for having to carry 24" and bigger cathode ray monitors as well as other heavy stuff. However looking at plain statistics, being the same rank as them, I am having unequal pay due to gender. Maybe I got it lucky that I still get chinese style chivalry from the guys without the inequality. One one hand they treat me like porcelain china, on the other hand they do not think I am less smart and less capable of well paying jobs. There is a pay gap but it is not that big.

 

Eye contact is another complicated issue. Very traditional social norms would dictate that ladies defer to guys and maybe to the extent of disallow eye contact. Social norms in the area would influence how much eye contacts between two adults of opposite sex. It is possible to look someone in the eye while having a conversation regardless of gender. Shifty eyes would be impolite. However guys typically would not look at a ladies eyes during a conversation because it can be misinterpreted as flirting, A lady would be misinterpreted as being interested in the guy. Also it depends on the age of the people having a conversation as well as the relationship. A child talking to their relatives would probably have a lot of eye contact. A child talking to a unrelated adult/senior on the street or store, much less eye contact. Chinese immigrants to SE Asia tend to take their habits with them.

 

The Thais, Laos, Malays, Indonesians, Burmese, Koreans, Japanese would definately have a different "set" of ettiquette with regards to eye contact. When I was working with them, they are all very polite and would not look directly at a lady and the personal space they give is bigger. However I don't know what are the set of rules if it is family instead.

 

Hopefully my response makes sense. Honestly your topic can become someone's dissertation :)

 

ETA: I actually finished typing at 9:44am LOL

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Type a long reply about cultural history and its effect in Asia on iPod and lost the post. I'll edit this post later.

 

"We" is referring to hubby and me in my earlier reply. China and India would be East Asia and Myanmar down to Indonesia would SE Asia.

 

 

India is actually commonly referred to as South Asia now. I'm using a Wikipedia reference to save time but have also seen it mentioned in more credible resources.

 

Eye contact isn't frowned upon in countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore (at least from personal experience I haven't seen it being a widespread issue in many city areas but village areas in Thailand and Malaysia could be a different matter) and I haven't seen kids being admonished or anything like that. I have seen hand gesturing being laughed at but I always considered it more of a "wow, you really move your hands a lot when you talk, don't you?" response than a "why on earth are you gesturing so much?" or "please don't gesture so much" issue.

 

ETA: talking with eyes...I grew up in Asia and talked with my eyes a lot. Odd episode when I was in an all girls' school in the 80's: I usually kept a low profile but one time, during a group-bullying incident, I was expressly told that I was being picked on because I used my eyes too much. I have no idea what that means but that's the only time I've ever felt sickened about being expressive.

 

Like Arcadia, my family members, friends etc all use eyes to convey meaning. I still do that with my son too although I work hard not to do it in a hurtful manner like it was the norm between grown ups and kids when I was growing up. But my son knows when he has pushed my buttons too much just from watching my eyes.

 

Some forms of Asian cultural dances also rely a lot on eye expressions...Balinese, Chinese, Indian classical and folk dances all use facial and eye expressions to convey meaning. I've seen kids who enjoy and have trained young in those dances being more expressive with the eyes. I did for a few years when I was younger and maybe it's that or maybe it's just genetic, and it's just very natural for me to use my eyes to convey meaning instead of words.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Darn it now I'm on a roll...sorry. :tongue_smilie:

Hand gestures similarly come so naturally to me. It wasn't something that I picked up in the US. I've always gestured when talking. It's very hard for me not to unless I'm holding a carton of eggs or something. Sometimes I try to limit my hands flying about when I suspect the other party might be uncomfortable with the gesturing. I'm Asian but not Chinese. I had a lot of Chinese friends growing up. Not from mainland China though. And a few of them gestured too. I was active in debate, public speaking, choral speaking etc in school and gestures really helped drive home the point. I don't think I'm high on the visual spatial spectrum although I am a highly visual learner.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

.... And a few of them gestured too. I was active in debate, public speaking, choral speaking etc in school and gestures really helped drive home the point.

 

For those occasions, I think any race would gesture :)

A funny is that I would have been told off for gesturing too much in daily conversations by my elders because it is unladylike. I'm born in the 70s just for time reference,

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Even in the Silicon Valley, it is still possible to see the effects of caste as well as inequality. I see indian women walking behind their husbands consistently.

 

I've seen this here in my own neighborhood too....

 

There is inequality as in how are we going to define equal. Among same rank engineers, I did not have to carry any load. I do not think it is unfair that my male collegues get a top up in pay for having to carry 24" and bigger cathode ray monitors as well as other heavy stuff. However looking at plain statistics, being the same rank as them, I am having unequal pay due to gender. Maybe I got it lucky that I still get chinese style chivalry from the guys without the inequality. On one hand they treat me like porcelain china, on the other hand they do not think I am less smart and less capable of well paying jobs. There is a pay gap but it is not that big.

 

I like how you are looking at this....

 

Eye contact is another complicated issue. Very traditional social norms would dictate that ladies defer to guys and maybe to the extent of disallow eye contact. Social norms in the area would influence how much eye contacts between two adults of opposite sex. It is possible to look someone in the eye while having a conversation regardless of gender. Shifty eyes would be impolite. However guys typically would not look at a ladies eyes during a conversation because it can be misinterpreted as flirting, A lady would be misinterpreted as being interested in the guy. Also it depends on the age of the people having a conversation as well as the relationship. A child talking to their relatives would probably have a lot of eye contact. A child talking to a unrelated adult/senior on the street or store, much less eye contact. Chinese immigrants to SE Asia tend to take their habits with them.

 

Here unknown kids (but trained in the arts of social interaction Swiss style) on the street will look me in the eye...but would they if I was a man? I haven't thought of that before...

 

The Thais, Laos, Malays, Indonesians, Burmese, Koreans, Japanese would definately have a different "set" of ettiquette with regards to eye contact. When I was working with them, they are all very polite and would not look directly at a lady and the personal space they give is bigger. However I don't know what are the set of rules if it is family instead.

 

Hopefully my response makes sense. Honestly your topic can become someone's dissertation :)

 

ETA: I actually finished typing at 9:44am LOL

 

You've helped me remember the eye etiquette in those countries....I really remember this now - about not looking directly at me...

 

Personal space - here some men will be very close - but they are not at all forward or froward type of men, so it must be cultural...sometimes I'm slowly backing away and they are moving closer following me as I move....depending on the person, it can feel uncomfortable or no problem....must be subconscious realizations there....

 

Let's see, 9:44 AM puts you - where in the world??? It's now 6:51 pm here....Are you in CA? I'm presuming you want to give us a hint by mentioning the time...:-)

 

Eye contact isn't frowned upon in countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore (at least from personal experience I haven't seen it being a widespread issue in many city areas but village areas in Thailand and Malaysia could be a different matter) and I haven't seen kids being admonished or anything like that. I have seen hand gesturing being laughed at but I always considered it more of a "wow, you really move your hands a lot when you talk, don't you?" response than a "why on earth are you gesturing so much?" or "please don't gesture so much" issue.

 

ETA: talking with eyes...I grew up in Asia and talked with my eyes a lot. Odd episode when I was in an all girls' school in the 80's: I usually kept a low profile but one time, during a group-bullying incident, I was expressly told that I was being picked on because I used my eyes too much. I have no idea what that means but that's the only time I've ever felt sickened about being expressive.

 

That's something - getting picked on for using your eyes too much....Have you watched any videos of yourself in emotional types of situations?

 

Like Arcadia, my family members, friends etc all use eyes to convey meaning. I still do that with my son too although I work hard not to do it in a hurtful manner like it was the norm between grown ups and kids when I was growing up. But my son knows when he has pushed my buttons too much just from watching my eyes.

 

Some forms of Asian cultural dances also rely a lot on eye expressions...Balinese, Chinese, Indian classical and folk dances all use facial and eye expressions to convey meaning. I've seen kids who enjoy and have trained young in those dances being more expressive with the eyes. I did for a few years when I was younger and maybe it's that or maybe it's just genetic, and it's just very natural for me to use my eyes to convey meaning instead of words.

 

You're making me think about people whose faces show much more emotion....You know some people are much easier to read - I think I'm one of them...I'm wondering if it is related to being more emotional than some...thinking about Asia...where many times you are not supposed to show emotion...

 

Maybe you ladies have some ideas about this?

 

 

Darn it now I'm on a roll...sorry. :tongue_smilie:

Hand gestures similarly come so naturally to me. It wasn't something that I picked up in the US. I've always gestured when talking. It's very hard for me not to unless I'm holding a carton of eggs or something. Sometimes I try to limit my hands flying about when I suspect the other party might be uncomfortable with the gesturing. I'm Asian but not Chinese. I had a lot of Chinese friends growing up. Not from mainland China though. And a few of them gestured too. I was active in debate, public speaking, choral speaking etc in school and gestures really helped drive home the point. I don't think I'm high on the visual spatial spectrum although I am a highly visual learner.

 

You got me laughing with the comment about not gesturing when holding a carton of eggs :-)

 

Please don't apologize about posting more...though I am having trouble keeping up with you guys.

 

I am certainly not feeling alone any more and not feeling so bad about it either - though you've both helped me think about changes depending on the setting...

 

Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let's see, 9:44 AM puts you - where in the world??? It's now 6:51 pm here....Are you in CA? I'm presuming you want to give us a hint by mentioning the time...:-)

 

I added the time because I realised I started typing at 7:41 California time on my ipod and end up finishing my reply at 9:44am on a computer. :lol:

 

Another thing is considering just chinese, we gesture a lot more at the farmers market/flea market/ night market as well as weddings, and much less at a formal fine dining restaurant in a pricy hotel. We also gesture quite a bit at funerals as those can be 24/7 affairs that last a few days.

 

Also to prevent too much hand gesturing as a kid, we clasp our hands behind our backs or stuff our hands into our pockets.

 

ETA:

We also gesture a lot more when bargaining :laugh: It is fun to watch even though I am bad at bargaining.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're making me think about people whose faces show much more emotion....You know some people are much easier to read - I think I'm one of them...I'm wondering if it is related to being more emotional than some...thinking about Asia...where many times you are not supposed to show emotion...

 

 

For weddings and funerals, we show facial expressions. For business meetings or playing poker/mahjong, it is better to keep a deadpan expression.

There is also the "social class" aspect. Ladies are encouraged to be more tone down in their facial expressions. So a boy might give a megawatt smile while a girl might give a subdued giggle to the same funny incident. I don't know if you heard about ladies in olden times smiling/giggling behind a fan. I have always been told to cover my mouth with my hand when laughing.

A funny was when I had a hand fan (given out at the event) with me on a summer event in California, Automatically I put the fan up when I wanted to laugh at a comedy performance. As Rosie (AU) says, I'm so 19th century.

 

ETA:

Just to put things in context, I went to a convent for elementary school (1st - 6th grade) and an all girls school for 7th to 10 grade. Any unladylike behaviour has to be out of teachers and nuns view.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For business meetings or playing poker/mahjong, it is better to keep a deadpan expression.

There is also the "social class" aspect. Ladies are encouraged to be more tone down in their facial expressions. So a boy might give a megawatt smile while a girl might give a subdued giggle to the same funny incident. I don't know if you heard about ladies in olden times smiling/giggling behind a fan. I have always been told to cover my mouth with my hand when laughing.

A funny was when I had a hand fan (given out at the event) with me on a summer event in California, Automatically I put the fan up when I wanted to laugh at a comedy performance. As Rosie (AU) says, I'm so 19th century.

 

:lol: OK, my visual learner side is giggling away reading the quoted parts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's something - getting picked on for using your eyes too much....Have you watched any videos of yourself in emotional types of situations?

 

Joan, I'm very camera shy. That's a good point...maybe some day, if I can summon the courage, I will submit to being photographed/ video taped. Others have taken videos of me performing (I used to sing for small family/ informal functions etc) and I refuse to watch them because of my perfectionist tendencies.

 

You're making me think about people whose faces show much more emotion....You know some people are much easier to read - I think I'm one of them...I'm wondering if it is related to being more emotional than some...thinking about Asia...where many times you are not supposed to show emotion...

 

Yeah, I've been told that people can read me like a book just from my face. I can't hide my feelings easily...it's taken years of practice to play games like Old Maid etc where you need to conceal your hand. My family is generally much more open about showing emotion. Even members of the older generation in my family are expressive and outgoing and open about it compared to others of their time so maybe that's why my experience is a little different re eye contact/ gesturing/ being emotional etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For weddings and funerals, we show facial expressions. For business meetings or playing poker/mahjong, it is better to keep a deadpan expression.

There is also the "social class" aspect. Ladies are encouraged to be more tone down in their facial expressions. So a boy might give a megawatt smile while a girl might give a subdued giggle to the same funny incident. I don't know if you heard about ladies in olden times smiling/giggling behind a fan. I have always been told to cover my mouth with my hand when laughing.

A funny was when I had a hand fan (given out at the event) with me on a summer event in California, Automatically I put the fan up when I wanted to laugh at a comedy performance. As Rosie (AU) says, I'm so 19th century.

 

ETA:

Just to put things in context, I went to a convent for elementary school (1st - 6th grade) and an all girls school for 7th to 10 grade. Any unladylike behaviour has to be out of teachers and nuns view.

 

All your observations are very helpful in making me more aware of when habits could be different even in other cultures...I can see that I haven't had much family training about this....while other behaviours have been ingrained....food for thought, even in relation to what I'm passing on.......

 

Maybe the 19th century elements are what help your coworkers treat you with respect?

 

 

Joan, I'm very camera shy. That's a good point...maybe some day, if I can summon the courage, I will submit to being photographed/ video taped. Others have taken videos of me performing (I used to sing for small family/ informal functions etc) and I refuse to watch them because of my perfectionist tendencies.

 

Yeah, I've been told that people can read me like a book just from my face. I can't hide my feelings easily...it's taken years of practice to play games like Old Maid etc where you need to conceal your hand. My family is generally much more open about showing emotion. Even members of the older generation in my family are expressive and outgoing and open about it compared to others of their time so maybe that's why my experience is a little different re eye contact/ gesturing/ being emotional etc.

 

I guess it could be embarrassing....how to be culturally sensitive without being imprisoned by others perceptions?

 

Hmmm - sounds like your family influence was stronger than the surrounding cultural influence....something about the way you describe your family makes it sound happy....

 

Thank you both!

Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...