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6 comments

Comment from: Bryan [Visitor]
This was a hilarious post, Don. For two reasons: for what the Russian woman said, and comparing this to what I've experienced. I live in a suburb of Boston, and have been living here all my life, and I've only seen people smile in only two of those situations - 2 and 3. And with the exception of waiters/waitresses, I've almost never had service workers smile at me or anyone else (unless they were regulars)

Another funny detail I've noticed is at least half the Russians I've met smiled more than the other people around them. Though, there was this definite sense of 'horror' in their eyes, as if their actions were killing them deep inside... slowly.
05/31/10 @ 08:26
Comment from: Sergey [Visitor]
Преотличнейший пост! Нам в университете про разницу в улыбках тоже много говорят, кстати... Дон, пишите побольше про "Cultural differences" - читать очень интересно! :-)
05/31/10 @ 10:15
Comment from: Theophanes [Visitor] · http://cloudenema.blogspot.com
Countless awkward situations in China could be avoided if foreigners figured out that Chinese people frequently laugh as a way of showing embarassment or dealing with awkwardness. Nothing makes an untrained round eye flip-out like seeing the person they've come to with a complaint break out in giggles. They in turn escalate the confrontation. Then The giggle turns into a full guffaw. You see where this is going.
05/31/10 @ 23:52
Comment from: Elaine [Visitor] · http://nzflutterby@blogspot.com
This is very illuminating.

In my work I deal with several different cultrues and the differences are very interesting.

For instance, for some Pacific island groups, to look directly at someone you are meeting is a sign of disrespect. Some see this as the opposite, a sign of shiftyness.

I have just found your blog and will be back.
Thank you
06/05/10 @ 14:14
Comment from: it-ogo [Visitor]
You did not convince me.

Smile is a physiological reflex. Babies smile when they feel pleasure or joy. If you smile consciously, in order to express something, this is a forced smile, not sincere, even if you are well trained in forced smiling and made a habit of it.

In other words if a smile is an unconditioned reflex, it is sincere. Conditioned reflex is not.

Don responds: Only unconditioned reflexes are sincere? That seems unlikely. For instance, my brother-in-law is from Lebanon. When he hears a statement that he disagrees with, he automatically clucks his tongue and raises his eyebrows. There is nothing inherently negative about those motions; they are a conditioned response he learned as a child in the midst of Arab culture, but when he has a sincere 'no' response, that is what he does. In Japanese and Korean culture, smiles are a signal of feeling shame. It is a conditioned response they learn in childhood, and when someone sincerely feels shame, they make a smile gesture with their mouth.

Likewise intonation, hand gestures, the direction of the gaze, body posture and body distance are all things that are significantly shaped by culture in childhood. None of them are stamped with an unchangeable meaning in our body response system, and neither is a smile.
06/08/10 @ 13:36
Comment from: Ivan [Visitor]
Улыбка радости или поднимающиеся от удивления брови - безусловные рефлексы, а следовательно, действия совершенно искренние. Ненастоящая натянутая улыбка, также как и искусственно поднятые брови, - ложь.
03/05/11 @ 08:17

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