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Andrei in the office

lordandrei

Andrei's Universe

One man's journey from infinity to nothingness


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lordandrei

How to unnerve people on line

I'm standing on a long line in front of a pair of Asian women. They began carrying on a conversation in <<Insert glyph based language I sure as hell don't know>>. Normally, when on line, if you hear a conversation near you, you casually acknowledge it and may jump in or pay attention to it.. if it seems appropriate.

While the U.S. doesn't have a standard, primary language... I find the use of non-English in the US is a way for a group to cordon themselves off. It sets up an intentional wall in a manner similar to installing a fence around your yard.

While language may be foreign... tone, body language, aren't.

I found myself paying attention to the conversation I didn't understand. I was riding along with the tone. And found myself chuckling at a pause point that felt like a humourous statement.

I found the one woman unnerved that I chuckled with her friend. It was as if I'd walked through her gate. She seemed to be wondering. "Oh, crap. Does he speak my language?"

So not eavesdropping. But a very interesting sociological and psychological experiment.

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That's actually not true

body language is not universal. I'm guessing the ladies had been there long enough to know what American body language is, but in Ukraine, people often stare openly even if they don't understand what's happening. For them it's not rude, and it doesn't even mean they understand.

I had a group of Saudis who were sitting with a stern expression and crossed arms. I thought they were all pissed. Turns out that body language in Saudi Arabia implies they are listening intently.

Your story is really funny, but I needed to chime in that body language is not universal and we often get in a world of awkward situations when we assume that to be the case.

Re: That's actually not true

True. However, they might have known American body language and thought "Well, as an American, his body language says he understands ..."

Re: That's actually not true

Jim had trouble with an arabic boss for a while, untill he figured that out! The guy would ask him some deeply personal question (like how we met, and why we stayed together- as a gay couple!)... then Jim thought he was standing there /browbeating/ him... when in fact, he was listening intently. (chuckles) Once he figured that out, things went MUCH smoother. ;) It's easy to jump to assumptions!

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