Body Language: Cultural Differences

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    • 00:02

      JOEL ASHER: Foreigners can seem strange to us.In another country, we are the foreigners.But if we can learn to adapt to their customs and behaviors,then we won't seem so strange to them.So we've brought in Norine Dresser, a cultural behaviorspecialist who will demonstrate someof the distinctions between the way we behave

    • 00:22

      JOEL ASHER [continued]: and the habits of people from other cultures.[MUSIC PLAYING]

    • 00:32

      NORINE DRESSER: Hi, everyone.My name is Norine Dresser.I'm a folklorist.And today we're going to talk about howculture affects movement.Now we're going to talk about greetings.And most common greeting in the United States is the handshake., Alexandra, nice to meet you.

    • 00:52

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: Nice to meet you.

    • 00:54

      NORINE DRESSER: Now, there are exceptions when people do notshake hands with one another.One reason can be if you are an orthodox Jew or a Muslim,a man would never shake hands with a woman,and the reverse, a woman, would never shake hands with a man.[KISSING]

    • 01:15

      NORINE DRESSER: We're going to talk about kissing now.

    • 01:17

      SEAN MCHUGH: Mm.

    • 01:19

      NORINE DRESSER: Now, if the two of youwere sweethearts and walking around in Asiaand were kissing out on the street, thatwould be a big taboo.But I'm talking about the social kiss.And with the influx of people from allover the world into the United Stateshere, we have started to absorb those customs of kissing.

    • 01:42

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: So if I saw Alexandra, even though I might not have knownher very well or very long, I would go up to herand-- [KISSING]-- and we wouldn't actually make contacton the cheeks, but we would make the sound.Now, I would not do that with you,unless I knew that you were a member of the family and very

    • 02:03

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: close-- otherwise taboo--

    • 02:05

      SEAN MCHUGH: Right.

    • 02:05

      NORINE DRESSER: So you're now my nephew.And Sean, oh, it's wonderful to see you.

    • 02:10

      SEAN MCHUGH: Hey.

    • 02:11

      NORINE DRESSER: So that's what we would do with the kissing.I've invited Joel in this scene, because the next gesture we'regoing to do would be absolutely taboo if a man and a womandid it to each other, particularlyif they didn't know one another.We're going to practice the abrazo.

    • 02:32

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: The abrazo means embrace, and it's very commonplace in Mexicoand further south in Latin America.So the two gentlemen will now face each other,grab each other tightly, and embraced warmly.Say hola.

    • 02:48

      JOEL ASHER: Hola!

    • 02:49

      SEAN MCHUGH: Hola!

    • 02:51

      NORINE DRESSER: It might take placeif you were related, for example,if Sean were related to Alexandra.But for right now, we're going to pretend that, absolutely,they are strangers to one another.But even if I don't know Alexandra very well--I've just run into her.She's a neighbor and we meet each otherin the grocery store--

    • 03:12

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: Alexandra--

    • 03:13

      ALEXANDRA: Ah, Norine.

    • 03:14

      NORINE DRESSER: It's been so long.It's a very nice, warm embrace.And it expresses so much of the Latino culture.We're going to talk about bowing now.Bowing is a more problematic gesture for Americans to make.But with so many people from all over Asia,

    • 03:36

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: we need to become more comfortable doing it or knowinghow to respond, what's expected of us.Bowing is really an act of respectbut also an act of submission.So there are different forms of bowing.The most common one that we'll see will be like this.

    • 03:57

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: You want to try it?OK.Now, the Japanese style of bowingis a little bit different, and I want to show it to you.You hold your arms more at the side,and you let the arm slip down like this and then come up.

    • 04:17

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: And the rule for Japanese bowing, usuallythe one who bows the lowest is the subservient person.So if you were, like, a visiting dignitary from Los Angeles,and you were in Japan-- why not, right-- the person wouldbe bowing to you very deeply, because you

    • 04:38

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: are in a superior position.And there's a famous department store in Japan.And when they're training their personnel to wait on customersand to interact with them, they use what's called a bow meter.And it's actually marked how low you bow for this personand how low you bow--

    • 04:59

      SEAN MCHUGH: Wow.

    • 04:59

      NORINE DRESSER: --for that person.But you need to know about it.Because if somebody comes up and bows to you,you don't know what to do.And as I say, if you're unsure of yourself,you can always nod your head, whichacknowledges there act of respect.I'm going to talk about a gesture that'svery common in India and also in Thailand,

    • 05:23

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: although they call it by different names.I think you'll find it useful if you'reever in India or in Thailand or evenin an Indian or a Thai restaurant.More commonly, it's known as the namaste.And its hands up like this, closer here,higher up a little bit.

    • 05:43

      SEAN MCHUGH: Oh, OK.

    • 05:44

      NORINE DRESSER: And then, you just bend.It's a form of respect, OK?And if someone does it to you, then you return it.And even though it feels strange, weird, you know,uncomfortable, you are returning the respectthat has been given to you.You bring it close to you-- some people put it at chin height--

    • 06:08

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: and then you bend over like that.And sometimes, you could even make it a little bit higher.If there are other people who are making that gesture to you,then you follow their lead.It's safer to do it chin height.Right now, I'm going to show you how to do the salaam.The salaam is an Arabic expression

    • 06:30

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: of [SPEAKING ARABIC], may peace be with you,but then there are accompanying hand gestures.First, you put your right hand over the heart,then over your mouth, middle of forehead, and then hand out.

    • 06:44

      ALEXANDRA: You said you say [SPEAKING ARABIC]as you do that or before or after?

    • 06:49

      NORINE DRESSER: You would say it as you're doing it.[SPEAKING ARABIC]And it's done quickly.Let's speed up the tempo, OK?

    • 06:58

      SEAN MCHUGH: Yeah.

    • 06:58


    • 06:59


    • 06:60


    • 07:01

      NORINE DRESSER: You know, it's almost one sweeping gesture.

    • 07:04


    • 07:06

      NORINE DRESSER: You're not really going to stop.You're not going to stop now there, no.Let's do it smoothly, OK?

    • 07:13


    • 07:14


    • 07:15


    • 07:17

      NORINE DRESSER: Yeah.And, you know, don't you feel the robes?

    • 07:20

      SEAN MCHUGH: You totally do.I was just thinking that.I felt like, oh, that's how they're raised.

    • 07:24

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: I felt a little regal.

    • 07:25

      SEAN MCHUGH: Yeah, I felt regal.

    • 07:26

      NORINE DRESSER: But then I did the movements, right?

    • 07:27

      SEAN MCHUGH: Yeah.

    • 07:28

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: And so I noticedthat you bowed your head a little bit.Is that what you do when you're doing when touch your forehead,bow your head, and then--

    • 07:31


    • 07:32


    • 07:33

      SEAN MCHUGH: And I think this is also a sign of respect again,too.

    • 07:36

      NORINE DRESSER: Of course.

    • 07:37

      SEAN MCHUGH: Right.OK.

    • 07:41

      NORINE DRESSER: I've asked Joel to join us again,because we're going to practice doing something that'svery commonplace outside of the United States,especially in Asia and the Middle Eastand almost everywhere.And that's same-sex hand holding.In other places in the world, it would be perfectly fine

    • 08:02

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: for you to hold hands with Joel, but itwould be absolutely taboo for youto be seen out in public with a female,even if she was married to you.There's no body contact.Especially in Japan, you would never see a man and a woman

    • 08:23

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: touching one another, even if they're married to each other.But what's really commonplace in the Philippines or other partsof Asia would be men holding hands with men--and there's no homosexual kind of connotation to it--Eastern Europe, as well.I was in an airport in Romania and saw two men

    • 08:46

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: walking and holding hands.And then they sat down at the table like this,and they were drinking their coffee,all the time holding hands.And it's strictly camaraderie.And what's very difficult is when people from those culturescome here and they want to hold hands,then they're accused of homosexuality.

    • 09:07

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: And that really throws them.So they're not comfortable.They have to relearn those rules of touching and not touching.Outside of the United States and you're with another man,you could have your arms around each other.Try it.

    • 09:24

      SEAN MCHUGH: Yeah, it feels more comfortable than holding hands.

    • 09:26

      NORINE DRESSER: Yeah, than holding hands.But they will hold hands.Arm's length will also work-- OK-- but not heterosexualtouching.

    • 09:36

      SEAN MCHUGH: And is that with age, too.Like, is it older men that do that normally?

    • 09:42

      NORINE DRESSER: Oh, yes.

    • 09:43

      SEAN MCHUGH: Not like younger men, though?

    • 09:44

      NORINE DRESSER: Younger men, as well.

    • 09:45

      SEAN MCHUGH: Younger men, too.OK.

    • 09:46

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: So whole age ranges.

    • 09:47

      NORINE DRESSER: The whole age range, exactly.Sometimes, the things that we do just automaticallyare offensive to other people.I'm going to talk about a few hand gestures that are reallyinterpreted differently in other countries.What does this mean to us?

    • 10:05

      SEAN MCHUGH: Good job.

    • 10:06

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: Thumbs up.Good job.

    • 10:06

      SEAN MCHUGH: Thumbs up, positive.

    • 10:07

      NORINE DRESSER: OK.Now, when Clinton was nominated--

    • 10:10


    • 10:11

      NORINE DRESSER: --X many years ago, first time for president,the camera caught him going like this.And it was a good shot for the camera.

    • 10:18


    • 10:18

      NORINE DRESSER: But for people in the Middle East,it meant up yours.So that's not very good for his--

    • 10:24

      SEAN MCHUGH: Wow.

    • 10:25

      NORINE DRESSER: --future negotiating with Middle Easterncountries.And what does this mean?

    • 10:30

      SEAN MCHUGH: OK, right, yeah.

    • 10:31


    • 10:32

      NORINE DRESSER: A-OK, but not in Brazil and places like that.Because this is the orifice, and we know what goes through it.So it's a very obscene gesture, as is this, OK?In Japan, that's a terrible gesture.We have to be very careful with our hands,

    • 10:52

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: because we can totally mess up a communication.Now, what does this mean?

    • 10:58

      SEAN MCHUGH: Peace.

    • 10:59

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: V for victory.

    • 11:00

      NORINE DRESSER: V for victory.But not in England.This, again, means up yours.So you want to be really careful.You don't want to do this to a brutish kind of person.Because you're going to have to bear the consequences of thatact.So the point is, be very cautiouswhen you're making gestures that are just so natural,

    • 11:22

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: and you just assume that everybodyinterprets in the same way.You could be totally off.Smiling is very significant.In American culture, we're used to just smiling all the time.But it can also be interpreted as being something flirtatious.

    • 11:45

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: And, in fact, it really is, you know.Oh, you just did a good job of that.

    • 11:49

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: Not surprising.

    • 11:50

      NORINE DRESSER: But it's definitely not universal.It's not universal in the way in which it's interpreted.And its interpreted the most unlike Americans smilingin Japan and in Korea.For example, in Japan, they don't smile too much.

    • 12:11

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: And so in the old days when they would take picturesof our diplomats with Japanese diplomats,it would always look like the Japanese diplomats wereunhappy with the results of this meeting.The truth of the matter was it was a serious event,and, therefore, they had to look serious.Once they caught on to how that picture was misinterpreted,

    • 12:34

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: then they had people come in and remind them,smile, look like the meeting was successful.Koreans think that if you smile too much you're being frivolousand it's not important.So the man who smiles too much is frowned upon.What do you think is the most ideal eye contact?

    • 12:57

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: I tend to look peoplein the eye for a little while and then periodically lookaway for a minute just so they don'tfeel like I'm being too intense and I'm staring.I find that's a little unnerving for some people.

    • 13:08

      NORINE DRESSER: Um, hm.And how about you, Sean?

    • 13:09

      SEAN MCHUGH: Yeah, I would agree.I think an initial contact directlyand then kind of off and on so as not to be aggressiveor to come across stalker-like, especially with women.

    • 13:21


    • 13:22

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: It's uncomfortable.

    • 13:24

      NORINE DRESSER: Well, that's the American style.Because when you look someone directly in the eye,it's interpreted as honesty and forthrightnessand truthfulness.

    • 13:35

      SEAN MCHUGH: Right.

    • 13:35


    • 13:36

      NORINE DRESSER: But for other cultures,it has a different kind of meaning.You would cast your eyes downward.Not your head, just, you know, you can talk to me.Talk to me.

    • 13:46

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: OK, so I'm talking to you, and I'm not--

    • 13:48

      NORINE DRESSER: No, no, no, talk to me.

    • 13:49


    • 13:50

      NORINE DRESSER: And then, instead of looking youin the eye, I would just sort of cast my eye downward, notnecessarily the head, but just not look you directlyin the eye.

    • 14:00

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: I understand.

    • 14:02

      NORINE DRESSER: I live in a neighborhood-- where you live,as well-- and we have a big Latino population.

    • 14:08

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: Definitely.

    • 14:09

      NORINE DRESSER: And I could walk down the street,or drive by more likely, and can tellthe difference between people from Cuba and peoplefrom Mexico.Cubans will look you straight in the eye,and Mexican people will tend to deflect their visionbecause they respect you.And therefore, it changes their body language.

    • 14:31

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: The Cuban style is more like this.And the Mexican style is more like this,because they're looking down as a sign of respect.But you can just imagine how easythat can be misinterpreted.You don't want to stare at them.You want to, you know, just cast your eyesdownward as a sign of respect.

    • 14:55

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: In the United States, we take it for grantedquite often that everybody eats the same.But there are subtle differences,depending on utensils especially and in the different waysin which we eat.You both have to be prepared to eat consistentlywith a context in which you're appearing.

    • 15:15

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: For now, we're going to pretend that we are eating in Britain.The scene is Britain.And we're going to proceed to eat.And there are different styles of eating depending on class,because England is a very class-conscious society.

    • 15:36

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: So first I'm going to serve Alex.

    • 15:40

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: Thank you.

    • 15:41

      NORINE DRESSER: And then I'm going to serve Sean.

    • 15:45

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: Thank you, darling.

    • 15:47

      NORINE DRESSER: And then, I'm going to serve myself.I won't indulge in English accents,because I don't know how to do them.But anyway, we're going to start with the middle-class eating.And this is what we do.We put the fork in the left hand,and we put the knife in the right hand.

    • 16:08

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: And we never change them back and forthas we do in the United States, whichreally seems like a waste of time.You know, we could be eating so much moreif we didn't have to change.

    • 16:20

      SEAN MCHUGH: Quite inefficient.

    • 16:22

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: Exceedingly so.

    • 16:24

      NORINE DRESSER: Anyway, so what we do iswe cut off a piece-- fork in left hand, regardless ofwhether or not you're left-handed or right-handed--and we can continue to hold the knife in our right hands,and then we eat it.

    • 16:44

      SEAN MCHUGH: Mm, scrumptious.

    • 16:45

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: Delicious.

    • 16:47

      NORINE DRESSER: OK, and that's middle class.Got it?

    • 16:51


    • 16:52

      NORINE DRESSER: I shouldn't be talking when I'm eating.

    • 16:54

      ALEXANDRA: Oh--

    • 16:55

      NORINE DRESSER: Sorry to do everything at once.

    • 16:56

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: Heavens, no.

    • 16:56

      NORINE DRESSER: Heavens, no, right.

    • 16:57

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: Heavens no.Now, if we're lower class, we change the wayin which we hold our utensils.We hold them up, fists on table.And you'll notice that it gives youa different feeling, a different perspective.Do you feel very powerful?

    • 17:17

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST [continued]: Do you feel very lower-class?

    • 17:20

      SEAN MCHUGH: I feel like myself.

    • 17:22

      NORINE DRESSER: Oh, good.

    • 17:23

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: I don't want to fight with my food.

    • 17:24

      NORINE DRESSER: OK.So now we're going to do it again.

    • 17:29

      SEAN MCHUGH: You still cut the same way.

    • 17:31

      NORINE DRESSER: You still cut the same way.Put the food in your mouth.Right.

    • 17:41

      SEAN MCHUGH: Mm.

    • 17:42


    • 17:43

      NORINE DRESSER: What do you think?

    • 17:44


    • 17:45


    • 17:46

      SEAN MCHUGH: How long, darling?

    • 17:48

      NORINE DRESSER: Now, you have to hold it up higher.

    • 17:50

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: Oh, you're right.

    • 17:51

      NORINE DRESSER: You, too.

    • 17:52

      SEAN MCHUGH: Oh.

    • 17:52

      NORINE DRESSER: Tines up.

    • 17:54

      SEAN MCHUGH: I'm going to stab someone here.

    • 17:56

      NORINE DRESSER: All right.Now we're going to try upper-class.Upper class is this.So you want me first, and then you do it.I'm going to slice it off.

    • 18:19


    • 18:20

      SEAN MCHUGH: Oh.Really enjoying it, aren't you?

    • 18:23


    • 18:24

      NORINE DRESSER: And you chew, savoring every little morsel.So you cut it off.And then you put your utensils down while you're chewing.

    • 18:37

      SEAN MCHUGH: Mm.

    • 18:40


    • 18:41

      SEAN MCHUGH: Delightful.

    • 18:43

      NORINE DRESSER: --do you feel the difference in yourself?

    • 18:47

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: A little bit.

    • 18:49

      NORINE DRESSER: And how would you describe those differences?

    • 18:52

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: Very relaxed.

    • 18:53

      NORINE DRESSER: How about you, Sean?

    • 18:55

      SEAN MCHUGH: Quite like James Bond.

    • 18:58

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: You're suave.

    • 18:60

      NORINE DRESSER: Is he upper-class?

    • 19:02

      SEAN MCHUGH: He--

    • 19:03

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: --pretends to be--

    • 19:04

      SEAN MCHUGH: --pretends to be, yes.

    • 19:05

      NORINE DRESSER: Oh, very good, very good.All right.So now we've practiced eating British-style.In California, we're very lucky because wehave a very large Asian population.So many of us are very adept at using Asian utensils, whichcome down to being the chopsticks.

    • 19:26

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: Now, I want to show you something about chopsticks.If there is no chopstick rest on the table,you make a chopstick rest, because it's very bad formto place the chopsticks directly onto the tablecloth.So this is what you do.Pull your chopsticks out, fold the paper in thirds, twist it,

    • 19:55

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: and then put it down, and then youhave your own chopstick rest.

    • 19:58

      SEAN MCHUGH: Yeah.

    • 19:59

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: Like there.

    • 19:60

      SEAN MCHUGH: Wow--

    • 20:00


    • 20:01

      SEAN MCHUGH: I love that.

    • 20:02

      NORINE DRESSER: OK.Another thing you have to do is to separate them.The reason they're joined at the endis because it indicates to you that no one has everused these before, OK?

    • 20:15

      SEAN MCHUGH: Fresh out of the box.

    • 20:17

      NORINE DRESSER: Yes.Now, I got into the bad habit of going like this to makesure there were no splinters, however it's very improper.However, there are nicer forms of chopsticks.So you have to make a decision about whether youwant splinters in your tongue or you want to be very polite.

    • 20:41

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: OK.One of the things, again, that you're not supposed to dois-- this is a rice paddle-- you neverput your chopsticks in the rice like that.Do you know why?

    • 20:55

      SEAN MCHUGH: Because that means it's your bowl now, right?

    • 20:58

      NORINE DRESSER: No, no.That was a good guess, but that's not why.This is something they do at funerals.And so it's really bad form.And you just never put your chopsticks there.You always will rest them on the chopstick rest if you have itor on your bowl like this, OK?All right, I'm going to serve you some rice,

    • 21:24

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: and serve you some rice, and myself.And lucky, this is called sticky rice'cause it's easier to handle.Now, have you ever used chopsticks before?

    • 21:37

      SEAN MCHUGH: I always feel like I don't do it right.So I would love for you to teach me the right way to do it.

    • 21:42

      NORINE DRESSER: OK, well, the bottom oneis always stationary, and it's on top of these two fingershere.

    • 21:51

      SEAN MCHUGH: OK.Oh, those two fingers.

    • 21:53

      NORINE DRESSER: Yeah--

    • 21:53

      SEAN MCHUGH: Ah.

    • 21:54

      NORINE DRESSER: --the upper one.And they always have to be the same length.You put your fingers back here, and you use the upper onelike you would hold a pencil or a pen.Now, I'm going to demonstrate this to you,and you'll see that I won't be successful.One of the things that Asian people

    • 22:15

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: do when they're eating rice is they bring the bowl up to them.So if you drop something-- try and pick something up,and because it's sticky rice, it makes it a lot easier, right?

    • 22:24

      SEAN MCHUGH: Right.

    • 22:25

      NORINE DRESSER: So that's really how it's done.And, in fact, if you go into a Chinese restaurant,you'll see them moving very quickly.

    • 22:37

      SEAN MCHUGH: Right.

    • 22:38

      NORINE DRESSER: If you're eating Japanese food,you can take the food with your chopsticks,place it on top of the rice, bring it close to you,and you'll be more adept way, more successful, I should say.

    • 22:54

      SEAN MCHUGH: Hm.

    • 22:55

      NORINE DRESSER: Are you doing all right with it?

    • 22:57

      SEAN MCHUGH: I'm doing all right actually.

    • 22:57

      NORINE DRESSER: Yeah.The bottom one's stationary.The top one is really the movable one.And you need to be towards the upper end of it.You have better control.

    • 23:08


    • 23:09

      NORINE DRESSER: OK.Let me see.

    • 23:10

      SEAN MCHUGH: Thank you.

    • 23:11

      NORINE DRESSER: Yeah, I think you're doing OK.

    • 23:13

      SEAN MCHUGH: Not bad here.

    • 23:14

      NORINE DRESSER: And you're doing OK?

    • 23:15

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: Oh, yeah.

    • 23:16

      NORINE DRESSER: All right.

    • 23:18

      SEAN MCHUGH: She's a pro over there.

    • 23:19

      NORINE DRESSER: So we use chopsticks what Chinese food.We use chopsticks with Korean food and Chinese food.Do you use chopsticks with Thai food?

    • 23:30

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: I've never beengiven chopsticks in a Thai restaurant.

    • 23:32

      SEAN MCHUGH: Trick question.

    • 23:33

      NORINE DRESSER: Trick question.Pardon?

    • 23:35

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: I've never beengiven chopsticks in a Thai restaurant.

    • 23:37

      NORINE DRESSER: No, except that sometimes--and you can giggle like I do-- someone will come into a Thairestaurant and say, may I have chopsticks, please?They don't use chopsticks.

    • 23:45

      SEAN MCHUGH: Ah.

    • 23:46

      NORINE DRESSER: So they look pretty really eating chopsticksin a culture that doesn't use chopsticks.They use forks and spoons.Cambodia uses spoons.And do you know why you don't see kniveson a table in Japanese restaurantsor in Chinese restaurants?

    • 24:05

      SEAN MCHUGH: Because they could be weapons?

    • 24:06


    • 24:07

      NORINE DRESSER: Yes, the knife is still a weapon.

    • 24:09

      SEAN MCHUGH: Wow.

    • 24:10


    • 24:10

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: Oh, I thought you were just being funny.

    • 24:11

      NORINE DRESSER: No, no.He was being astute.Yes.So this is your chopstick lesson.And do you think you've got the hang of it now?

    • 24:21

      SEAN MCHUGH: I think I need to practice,but I'm getting there.

    • 24:23

      NORINE DRESSER: Yeah.And, you know, sometimes you'll be better at itthan other times.

    • 24:28

      SEAN MCHUGH: And it's very sticky rice,because it's sticking.

    • 24:33

      NORINE DRESSER: And what's difficult to do,but it's certainly worth trying, is the noodles,like they have the pho-- P-H-O, the noodle places.And that's Vietnamese.And then, you have to twist the noodlesand get them into your mouth this way.

    • 24:50

      SEAN MCHUGH: Oh, kind of like twirling your fork.

    • 24:51

      NORINE DRESSER: Slurping is OK.

    • 24:52

      SEAN MCHUGH: Slurping's OK.

    • 24:53


    • 24:54

      SEAN MCHUGH: I'm in.

    • 24:54

      NORINE DRESSER: --definitely OK.Right.

    • 24:56

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: We're so bad at noodles with chopsticks.I'm just like, ha, where's my fork?

    • 25:03

      NORINE DRESSER: Now, we're going to tryeating in a style that may be a little morechallenging for you.This is a style that's used in India, in Pakistan,in the Middle East.The food we have today happens to be from India,and it happens to be all vegetarian.

    • 25:24

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: And what we do is-- and the most important thingabout eating the style, whether it's the Middle East or Asia,is we never reach for the food with our left hand.That is really taboo, because left handis used for hygienic purposes.

    • 25:38

      SEAN MCHUGH: Oh.

    • 25:39


    • 25:40

      NORINE DRESSER: But you need to use both handswhen you tear the bread.This bread is called chapati.And so, you know, theoretically, we'veall washed your hands before we'vebegun eating, because we're going to be sharing this plate.So it's very similar to the way in which people in Mexico

    • 26:02

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: use their tortilla.So you use this as a scoop.And you just use your fingers, no left hand,and just use your right hand, and you reach for the food.It's very communal.OK, go for it.Oh, yeah right.Um, hm.

    • 26:21

      SEAN MCHUGH: It's a little spicy.

    • 26:23


    • 26:24

      NORINE DRESSER: Oh, yeah.

    • 26:24


    • 26:25

      NORINE DRESSER: Uh, oh.

    • 26:26

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: Didn't see that coming.

    • 26:27

      SEAN MCHUGH: No.Aren't we technically double-dipping here?

    • 26:29

      NORINE DRESSER: Um, hm.

    • 26:30

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: Is that all right?

    • 26:31

      SEAN MCHUGH: And that's OK?

    • 26:31

      NORINE DRESSER: Um, hm.

    • 26:32

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: It's culturallyacceptable to double-dip.That's awesome.

    • 26:34

      SEAN MCHUGH: Nice.This would be good over at college frat parties.

    • 26:39


    • 26:41

      NORINE DRESSER: Usually they serve a big, round platter,like the Middle Eastern cultures.And, yes, you keep double-dipping, triple-dipping,or quadruple dipping.It makes a bond between us, because weare eating communally.We are truly sharing food.

    • 27:00

      SEAN MCHUGH: Right.

    • 27:01

      ALEXANDRA: Sharing an experience, huh?

    • 27:02

      NORINE DRESSER: Yes.And so we're being tied together more tightlythrough this food experience.There are lots of little, subtle things in the waysin which people eat.For example, Japanese don't like to show their mouths.And when they use a toothpick-- if you notice,

    • 27:26

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: if you go to a Japanese restaurant,there'll usually be a toothpick, whichindicates that they expect you to use it--but you always cover your mouth so nobody sees you.It's partly one of the reasons why smiling isn't so preferred

    • 27:46

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: in Japan, because when you smile, you show your teeth,and you're not supposed to.In the old stereotypes of the Japanese women in their kimonosand, you know, tee-hee-hee.But it's really all about showing your teeth.[BELCH]

    • 28:03

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: Excuse me.

    • 28:05

      SEAN MCHUGH: Well.

    • 28:06

      NORINE DRESSER: Well, you know something, Alex, that if wewere in a Middle East country or in the Philippines,and you burped or belched, whichever you prefer,the terms of terminology, would be considered a complimentto the host.

    • 28:20

      ALEXANDRA AUGUST: I'm moving.

    • 28:21

      NORINE DRESSER: Yes.And we don't really consider it a compliment here.I mean, if a child burps, the mother or fatherwill scold them, you know.And we say, excuse me.But in certain countries, you don't have to worry about that.As far as other noises at the table,depending on where you are, in Japan

    • 28:43

      NORINE DRESSER [continued]: it's perfectly fine to slurp your noodles.And it really feels great to be able to do that and notbe able to worry that you're being offensive.

    • 28:54

      SEAN MCHUGH: Mm.

    • 28:54

      NORINE DRESSER: And in Hong Kong and places in China-- [SMACK]--I can't do it-- but if you smack-- not the right way--smack your lips, it means compliments to the chef.

    • 29:04

      SEAN MCHUGH: Compliments to the chef.

    • 29:05

      NORINE DRESSER: Yes.So slurping and lip-smacking are perfectlyfine, as are belching or burping,whatever you want to call it.

    • 29:13

      JOEL ASHER: That should give you an ideaof what to look for when you are visiting other cultures.As you see, our behavior is determined by who we areand where we come from.Do your research, be specific, and enjoy the journey.[MUSIC PLAYING]

Body Language: Cultural Differences

View Segments Segment :


Norine Dresser, a diversity specialist, explains gestures and the cultural differences those gestures have across different regions. Reviewing gestures such as: kissing, embracing, using knifes and forks, hand signs, and many more. We learn what these mean to other cultures and how they perceive them.

Body Language: Cultural Differences

Norine Dresser, a diversity specialist, explains gestures and the cultural differences those gestures have across different regions. Reviewing gestures such as: kissing, embracing, using knifes and forks, hand signs, and many more. We learn what these mean to other cultures and how they perceive them.

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