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Smiling

Americans usually smile to show pleasure and good nature, but that’s not true of all cultures. The importance of a smile and the fine points of timing vary from culture to culture.

Examples:

  • For Middle Easterners, a smile might be used to placate someone, thus avoiding conflict.

  • To smile at a French person on the street is considered an inappropriate intrusion.

  • Many nonnatives use a smile to acknowledge a message that has not truly been understood.

  • Japanese usually will not smile at serious events, including getting a driver’s license (it would show frivolity for a serious responsibility).

  • Asians generally may smile when they are happy, sad, apologetic, angry, frustrated, disagreeing, thankful, or even confused.


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