Chinese nonverbal communication

how to use nonverbal communication for marketingImagine for a second that you are on the hunt for a new piece of software. Like the majority of professionals, you start your search online.

After finding a few familiar names, you discover a new company you’ve never heard of before. Upon clicking on their website, you’re met with dark imagery that makes you feel uncomfortable. The copy sounds enticing though, so you click on the video to learn more about the product. In the video are more images that could be perceived as almost offensive.

Your instinct is to run far from this company, even though it had all the potential to be the best solution for your needs.

Could you be unintentionally offending other cultures with your marketing?

The answer might surprise you. Without having an in-depth understanding of the culture you’re marketing to, you could be sending an bad signal causing people to sprint away from doing business with you.

No matter how well-translated your website copy may be, if you have certain videos, images, or colors in your marketing, your customers might be too scared or turned off to do business with you.

Before you launch your website to a new market, here are a few of the nonverbal communication signals to be careful using that could offend your potential buyers.


This is perhaps the easiest way to unknowingly offend a prospect. Colors have a strong psychological impact on buyers. If you use the wrong colors to market your product, you risk offending people and causing them to run – even if you have the best solution for their needs.

Example: Translations to Chinese are complex, and should be performed with careful consideration. Nonverbal cues to the Chinese market should be given with that same thoughtfulness. Colors are especially important to this culture. For example, if you show a picture of people wearing white in a Chinese market, you could be sending a signal of death, rather than purity.

Head movement

The way you move your head can show that you agree, disagree, or are curious to learn more. This comes without a second thought to many people within their culture, but to other cultures it can have a very different meaning.

Example: In America, nodding the head up and down shows a sign of interest and agreement. In the Middle East, nodding up means you disagree, and nodding the head down means you agree.

Hand gestures

Waves and hand signals all have different meanings, and different levels of appropriateness depending on where you are and the culture you’re working with. If you’re putting together a video or using images of people on your website, you’ll want to be especially careful not to include someone with a hand gesture that could be offensive.

Example: Giving the sign that everything is “okay” or “perfect” in America can be misconstrued to mean something very insulting in other countries. In Greece and some Middle Eastern countries, a thumbs up signal is taken as an insult. In Indonesia, the thumb is the only polite finger to use for pointing. Any other finger is considered rude.

Eye contact

Some people say that the eyes are the windows into the soul. Indeed, eye contact can have a profound impact on how people perceive conversations between friends, partners, business associates, and men or women. Using an appropriate level of eye contact between the right people is crucial if you want to connect with other cultures.

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What are the five basic channels of nonverbal communication?

The five non-language channels of nonverbal communication are facial expressions, gestures, gazes, touch, and vocal cues. !

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