We Don’t Understand Each Other: Non-Verbal Cues
It’s difficult enough for men and women of the same cultural backgrounds to understand one another. Throw in another culture and even when you understand the words, you’ll both feel like you missed something. Why? Because 65% of conversation is non-verbal. This includes gestures, the way something is said and even when something’s not said. If you don’t know the non-verbals of the other culture, you’ll be lost.
In Ukraine, when a woman smiles at a man, it means she’s interested in him sexually. She can insist she’s not interested, but if she’s smiling, it indicates she is. If that same girl smiles at a Ukrainian woman, she’s indicating she thinks that woman is silly in the head. It’s all in the non-verbals.
In Ukraine and Russia, politeness is essential. For example, a Ukrainian woman won’t outright refuse to do something, even if they have no intention of doing it. That means if you ask a Ukrainian or Russian girl to lunch on Saturday and she tells you it’s her mother’s birthday, she’s telling you she won’t be there, end of story. She might even agree when you suggest she could show up earlier or later. She still won’t show. Family trumps a date. If you don’t know that, you could wait for hours. Meanwhile, she’ll have thought you understood her dilemma.
What This Means for You
Non-verbal cues are important. They can lead to better understanding so you can reach a compromise. They can also avoid a fight. For instance, you could suggest to the Ukrainian and Russian girl that you go to lunch another day.
By learning what the non-verbals are, you’ll have an easier time solving problems in your relationship. You can also understand her expectations better. This may mean paying close attention and asking for clarification.