Verbal and non-verbal communication with customers
There are cultural differences in the way people communicate as the following examples indicate:
• Amongst many African cultures it is considered very rude to get straight to the point in a conversation.
Politeness required that you make “small talk” for a while, discussing the weather, the weekend sport, your families, etc before you get down to the business at hand.
By contrast, many European cultures are extremely businesslike and efficient, and get straight to the point in the interest of saving time.
• Many African people, because of the suspicion that you might be talking about someone in the area do not trust speaking very quietly.
On the other hand, Japanese people might be extremely uncomfortable with someone who speaks very loudly, because in their culture, discretion and not drawing attention to yourself is considered important and polite.
You will also find cultural differences in non-verbal communication, for example:
• Africans tend to look down as a mark of respect, whereas Westerners regard direct eye contact as an indicator of trustworthiness.
• Japanese people are uncomfortable with physical contact – which is why they bow instead of shaking hands – whereas other cultures shake hands, or even kiss each other on both cheeks.
• An Englishman might wait to be asked to sit down, whereas traditional Africans will sit down immediately in the company of someone he regards as having a higher status.
90% of people’s opinion of you is decided on within the first 4 minutes of meeting you. In the eyes of the customers, you are the company you represent.
It is therefore of vital importance that through verbal and non-verbal communication a friendly, professional and positive impression is created, as a wrong or bad impression could result in a dissatisfied customer.
The verbal and non-verbal elements refer to the way in which we communicate with others.