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Eye Contact

Typically, Americans are taught that the more eye contact they give, the more power they are perceived to have, and that if someone doesn’t give enough eye contact, something is wrong. In many cultures, however, especially Asian, less eye contact is more respectful. Also in many other cultures, females will be less inclined than males to look another person in the eye. It confuses many Americans when their employees, managers, or customers don’t give them the contact they are expecting. They begin to think that the other person is doing something they are ashamed of. Jumping to these conclusions can harm your business relationships. Make sure you understand the other person’s culture and background before you become suspicious.

If, however, you are dealing with a nonnative who is not making strong eye contact, don’t alter your usual way of communicating. Other cultures expect Americans to make eye contact. They do not, of course, want or expect you to stare or continue to look closely at them if they are visibly embarrassed.


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