How to Avoid Miscommunication When Traveling to a New Country
Having the opportunity to travel or live in another country is an opportunity to see the world from a brand new perspective. Whether travelling to a popular, touristic spot or a small, unvisited, off the path destination, travellers are sure to have new and exciting experiences. However, to get the most from your travels, it’s important to ensure that you can understand what is going on around you and that you can be understood. When travelling communicating without the local language can often take the form of gestures and other non-verbal cues.
There are a million ways people communicate non-verbally around the world, and this language can include avoiding eye contact, walking some steps behind a person, kissing a person upon greeting them and leaving small gifts when leaving. If you are not aware of these little nuances in culture, we as travellers can appear rude or standoffish to the culture. For this reason, understanding non-verbal cultural cues can prevent the miscommunication that often leaves locals feeling sour about another those of a foreign culture or country.
Continue reading to learn how you can avoid miscommunicating when travelling to a new country.
Research The Customs
One of the best ways to prevent miscommunication while travelling is to take the time to understand the mores and cultural practices that define the culture. By getting an idea of how the people relate to each other and to others outside of the community, you have a better chance of understanding why people behave in certain ways. This understanding will also give you an added advantage in not offending those who live in the country.
Learn Body Language
As part of researching the customs, many sites will discuss body language and how to avoid the various faux pas. For example, in most western countries, no offence is taken to someone pointing with their index finger. However, in China, Japan, Latin America, Indonesia and many other countries, it is considered very rude. Simple information related to greetings and how to address others is important in not offending people from the host country.
The way we dress is a language in and of itself to others. More than self-expression, how you choose to dress can in many ways speak to others about our beliefs, our attitudes, and of course, our morals and values. For this reason, how you dress is a very important social cue and can convey a lot about you.
For instance, in Morocco, women are advised to dress conservatively, avoiding shorts and in some places, they are required to cover their hair. Someone who decides to do the opposite will draw strong reactions from those who live in the area while some would see it as disrespectful. While it may seem superficial, the way we dress when travelling to another country can be pleasant or offensive depending on the social attitudes that define dress for both women and men in that place.
Learn Some Phrases
In some instances, learning a few simple phrases in the local language can help to convey a sense of respect for the local people and culture. Showing an interest in the local language is often taken as a huge compliment by the locals who can grow tired of speaking broken English to tourists. Learning a few phrases cannot only help you get the thing you need quickly, but it can also go a long way in terms of your interactions with the local people.
Speaking Volumes Without Uttering A Word
Being a tourist who gets involved with the culture involves much more than going to great night clubs and restaurants. Interacting with the people in the area can give you great insight into their world view and give you an idea of how the local people really live. Making the effort to be respectful of where you are visiting, the local culture and the people will allow you to communicate openly and meaningfully with the local people. With a positive and open approach to the locals, you will have a more enjoyable and unique experience on your next trip.