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Culture and the non-verbal proximic behaviour do really have an interaction. Culture is always that set of beliefs and values that inherently shape and determine our behaviours in using both time and space for purposes of communication. Culture allows us as well to understand what other people would communicate to us by holding a certain space or allotting a certain amount of time for a communication situation. Individualism is an inherent characteristic of western cultures. German people, for instance, do not demand proximate spaces in their daily interaction. Eastern societies, in contrast, place high premium on being collectivist. Consider the space hold by two individuals in a simple conversation. In an eastern context, a somewhat far disposition for the two individuals is culturally abnormal and unusual since they are accustomed of being near to each other when conversing so as to reach a better communication. The same space for an American, a British or a Swedish is normal and usual. It is embarrassing, in a western context, to hold adjacent positions standing much closer and nearer to the person in a discussion or conversation. Closely connected to this, Edward T. Hall, when referring to the contribution of culture on the aspect of space, argues "each person has a 'bubble' of space in which he or she moves and in which he or she feels comfortable. Intrusions into that space are acceptable only under circumstances of intimate contact. Outside of that space is a second 'bubble' of space in which normal interpersonal contacts take place. Then outside of that is a third 'bubble' of public space" (Intercultural communication, 185). These "bubbles" are spaces that individuals in a certain culture hold when communicating with different people ranging from intimate, familiar to unknown. It is culture that shapes these spaces and these "bubbles" are aspects of culture. Cultures transfer these meanings through a variety of channels such as proverbs, folktales, myths and legends.
For instance when musicians audition for an orchestra, a screen must be blocking the judges from viewing the candidates. Without it, the selection committee is prone to make snap judgments based upon their appearance. As Gladwell said, “Some people look like they sound better than they actually sound, because they look confident and have good posture” (page 251). Our world and the cultures we’re exposed to have crammed our brains with constant generalizations and stereotypes about certain groups of people. This is one of the reasons our rapid cognition sometimes fails us – it relies on these stereotypes we’ve been primed to believe. Proof of this is any of the priming experiments Gladwell talked about, such as where students imagined being a professor prior to a test as opposed to imagining being a soccer player and scoring higher on the test after imagining being a professor (page 56). Our quick judgment also lacks subtlety and the definition of what we really want and our explanation of what we perceive and what is real doesn’t exactly match up in many cases. Like women in Iyengar and Fisman’s speed dating experiment (pages 64-65); they ranked intelligence and sincerity more important than looks and a sense of humor, but after a quick date with an attractive and funny man she will then rank those attributes more important. But as we increase our experiences with rapid cognition, and learn how to “thin-slice,” a term the author designated himself to refer to “the ability of our unconscious mind to recognize patterns and behaviors through slices of experiences and respond ccordingly,” (page 23) we will also learn to make better decisions. We can tame ourselves in time for similar future situations. Practice is all we need. There are many lessons to be learned in a valuable book such as Blink. Blink tells us to “listen with our eyes,” avoid making bad snap judgments, and learn to “thin-slice” effectively. Included in Blink are numerous accounts of people’s personal experiences, series of conducted experiments, and examples upon examples of situations, rational changes, and statistical data. Because of this is why the book was so enjoyable. It opened my eyes to my own locked doors and what I could possibly do to open them. Gladwell talked about mistakes billions of people make on a daily basis that I have made too. And he made me realize with practice of “thin-slicing” and with a change of environment someone, even like myself, could open the locked doors. Related posts:
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