Nonverbal communication is an important aspect of human interaction for
several reasons. First,
research has indicated that a person will believe nonverbal cues rather
than explicit verbal messages when the two are in conflict with each
other. Next, nonverbal cues
are responsible for initiating first impressions of people.
Finally, nonverbal communications are not easily controlled
consciously making them a valuable tool when trying to understand the
meaning of a message related by a person from a different culture then
your own. Nonverbal cues
include, but are not limited to attire (clothing), posture, gestures, eye
contact and gaze, touch, personal space and finally time.
As you will see, the people of Mexico are unique in communicating
through nonverbal cues.
people of Mexico have a dress that is all their own; it is a mix between
what would be worn in many of the large cities of North America and Europe
and traditional garments of the smaller Mexican village people. Indeed, in the larger cities of Mexico, the dress is conservative
and colors are subdued. Men
wear hats, but the women generally do not because of a custom started
by the Revolution of 1910, when the wearing of hats by women in Mexico
was considered too European. In
addition, due to the high importance of family, older women are frequently
seen wearing black as a sign of mourning.
A traditionally scarf called the rebozo is still worn by
many urban women either as a sweater or as shawl.
The attire of the Mexican countryman has not changed much over the
years, as has his urban counterpart.
Blue jeans or trousers, white tee shirts, and sombreros are
the traditional dress for men while women where huipils a kind of
tunic that is long and embroidered. Factory-made
clothing or garments made in the home from factory-produced materials are
increasingly worn by both sexes, although cotton and wool are still spun
and woven by hand in rural areas where Indian culture predominates.
The people of Mexico place a lot of emphasis on present time. They are not in a hurry to get things done and often are
engaged in many tasks at once. This
attitude is reflected in the Mexican posture.
Frequently, it is a hunched over position with the head bent
forward and the body in a relaxed position.
This is opposite, however, when it comes to gesturing.
Here, Mexicans can be very animated when they interact signaling an
emphasis on storytelling and myths.
contact or gaze is one of the most effective nonverbal cues available
because of the limitlessness of its ability to convey messages. Direct,
penetrating, sincere, attentiveness, awkwardness, and trusting are just
a few of the nonverbal messages a person can convey with his or her eyes.
People from Mexico often refrain from making direct eye contact
as a sign of respect. This
is due in part to role of elders in Mexican society, being viewed as wise
and full of worldly knowledge. This
socialization process starts in childhood when children are taught to
avert their gaze as a sign of attentiveness and respect.
Touch is the earliest sense to mature in infants.
One’s culture teaches the rules of touching at an early age;
whether or not to shake hands, embrace with a hug or kiss, be intimate
with someone. Physical
contact, of course, varies from culture to culture.
In Mexico, touching or embracing is part of everyday life.
Men will often greet each other with a kiss on both cheeks are a
hearty hug and pat on the back. This
is an important part of communication in Mexican society.
It displays the value that all are equal, all are welcome, and all
The following two nonverbal cues differ from the ones discussed
above; that is, the ones that are primarily produced by the body.
Personal space and time are nonverbal cues that
combines with the setting. They
are as much a part of communication as the words that are spoken.
space is the invisible boundary surrounding your body.
often, it is called a “comfort zone.”
You decide who may and may not enter this zone.
It is not surprising then when considering Mexican attitudes toward
touch that one finds when discussing the issue of personal space, the
people of Mexico are on the lower end.
In other words, they prefer a
closeness of range when engaged in conversation. It signals a sort of importance and attentiveness to the matter
As stated before, the people of Mexico are present oriented when
concerning time. The emphasis
is on living in the moment, impulsive, and spontaneous.
Mexicans tend to have a more relaxed and casual lifestyle.
According to the two divisions of time that Hall proposes (either
M-time or P-time), the Mexican lifestyle more closely resembles P-time or
polychronic time. This
approach to time explains why conversations are often interrupted; time is
less of a tangible and people come before schedules.