Body-language and nonverbal communication

Tag "shame"













Honor and / or shame

“Eight Honors and Eight Shames” are some basic value in China, like it’s honorable to love the motherland, to service people, to adore science, to work diligently, to help each other, to be honest, to obey the law and rules, and to strive hard for what you want. In contrast, it’s shameful to jeopardize the motherland, to betray people, to be ignorant, to indulge in creature comforts, to harm others to benefit oneself, to forget friendship for profit, to disobey the law and rules, and to be extravagant and dissipated.

Just returned from China and again I think about these honors and shames. How is this incorporated in daily life? How do People think about it and live with it?

I am now back home from China. One week in Shanghai and one week in Beijing. Two interesting Workshops (among others at Tongji University Shanghai) and some lectures (among others Academy of Sciences Beijing) on the issues of “Body psychotherapy” and “Body and personality”.
There is ever such a big interest in this perspective in China. And of course I will return. 🙂

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What a shame

Four elderly petitioners from Henan took it all off and protested in front of the US Embassy in Beijing over the rights of their activist sons and daughters.

The nude petitioners were seen in front of the embassy around 10:00 a.m. with phrases such as “Corrupt officials in Henan are livestocks!“ written on their bodies. The demonstrators included 65-year-old Xing Jiaying, 66-year-old He Zeying, 73-year-old Tian Guirong and 68-year-old Zhang Fengmei, who were also holding placards reading simply “yuan” (grievance).

According to the protestors, their sons and daughters were human rights activists suffering from torture and mistreatment while under illegal detention. Their children voiced grievances in the form of letters or calls to the government, resulting in 18 years of illicit detention, one of the parents said.

What a shame for those old women to offer their naked bodies as last sign of desperation and powerlessness.

What sign of respect for life.

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Permission to ask a personal question?

If I’m interested in a person I ask him, put questions or show my interest in order to get to know more about this or that.

Chinese often hesitate to address me or others with a personal, direct question just like: “Oh, can you tell me more about your life or your children and so on”. This, as I was told by others, also can happen if you know each other better.

This does not mean that a Chinese isn’t interested, not at all! He or she is often very interested but tries to avoid to put or “tear” the other into public by putting such a question. If he or she would put this direct personal question, the other one either could feel himself obliged to show up with an answer or if he doesn’t want to do it to show up (in a personal way as an personal expression) he has to dissociate himself.

On the other hand I experience …….

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Our dreams are different……

When I saw these photoes which a Chinese friend of mine showed to me I was not really shocked by the information (because I already had experienced the same here in Germany), but really felt a pity about those difficulties in relating to each other even if you want to do or you have to.

These difficulties can be seen all over the Western countries. How will it be in China concerning Western students living and studying in China?

Who can tell?

I also felt ashamed imagening the feelings of those CHinese students who show up on those photoes. How do they feel? Especially being together with other students and not really meeting them, not really touching them or being touched.

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To drink a toast to somebody

Last week I talked to a manager who had been busy in China for quite a long time. He told me a very personal experience which as he underlined had a deeper meaning for him which he had not yet puzzled out.

Each time when there was a business dinner everybody tried to drink a toast to  him and his German colleagues. He felt this to be an important gesture towards the foreign guests. As there were only some Germans and many Chinese often it was not easy for each Chinese and for each table to have enough time to drink a toast. Perhaps you can imagine this kind of social stress in the restaurant where he had been.

Well, judged from a German point of view, one could say, that ……………..

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The skin is the message 6 – devaluation and shame

This morning I came across a little notice in my newspaper on a research about young people and internet mobbing. The main result of this research is the following: Embarrassing fotos are felt more severe than mockery and ridicule by words. More than half of the surveyed young people who have experience in cyber-mobbing suffer from unauthorized fotos and video clips in the internet, when these fotos or videos are used in a mockery manner. This is also experienced as a deep humiliation and a loss of trust.

In contrast to this, mockery by words, insults and verbal threats are only experienced by 25 % of the young people as deeply embarrassing. One conclusion out of this survey can be the following: people, especially young people, feel more unsecure and helpless thus much more struck on a nonverbal level than on a verbal level. They feel obviously more safe and more resistant on the verbal level than on the body level.

On the other hand they know very well the importance of the nonverbal level. And they operate there in an effectual and convincing way. Convincing here means, in a cruel way. Well, realising this, can bring up the idea to be more careful on the nonverbal level, to be more sensitive by using the body language as an important and direct approach to the other.

I wonder what kind of results there would be in other countries, mainly in China, Japan or so.

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The skín is the message 5 – The wish to be seen as resistance to the feeling of shame

Maybe you remember my experience in the underground of Berlin some dweeks ago. I had seen a couple having tattoos. When trying to look at the tattoos, because I got interested in the symbols which I could see even from the distance, the man addressed me in quite an aggressive way. He did not want to be seen, though having his tattoos uncovered so that everybody in the underground could see them.

So that everybody had to see them.

This experience again made me be aware of a paradox in our media society: There is a broad interest in to be seen, a deep longing for to be seen and a lot of activities to be seen. BUT on the one hand often the moment when someone is seen on TV or is so short that it is soon forgotten again. And on the other hand people react quite strange when they are seen, when someone really is interested in what they see.

This reminds me also of the feedback when people ……………..

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Body-painting and ritualisation

There’s a long tradition in body-painting in almost all cultures. Still nowadays you find body-painting connected with important cultural rituals, special dance performance, in theater and so on. Insofar body-painting is an official, socially and culturally accepted habit for special purposes and with a special meaning. And it is necessary for those cultures.

People who are part of those rituals know what they do, that they do it and they know about the meaning of what they’re doing. They feel integrated in society and in the culture and often they are proud of being part of this. Even if they do not know consciously there is a social knowing, a social unconscious knowing.

Each person feels being part and this helps to feel being accepted also on the very personal level of self-expression. One could think that there is not such a shame which I felt in the man’s reaction I talked about some days ago in my blog.

Body-painting and body-language related ……………..

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Tattoo and shame

It happened about two weeks ago when I travelled by underground in Berlin. It was a hot summer day. People wore light clothing so that I could see very clearly that someone sitting opposite to me had a tattoo on his shoulder. The man sitting together obviously with his girlfriend, arm in arm, had many very colourful and artificial painted tattoos on his shoulder and his neck. I began to look more intensely to those tattoos and tried to find out what they symbolised, and what the symbols were saying to me.

When it happened just on a sudden that this man addressed me obviously quite aggressive with the words: “Why are you staring at me? What are you looking for?” Meanwhile his girl-friend tried to cover her own tattoo. You can imagine how astonished I was about this reaction. I felt very friendly looking, I felt in a good mood admiring those paintings on the body. And I felt very interested in trying to decrypt the shown symbols.

Of course I right away realized the slightly aggressive tone in the man’s voice. Of course I felt rejected ………….

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Shame and psychotherapy in Chinese culture

The Chinese character of shame has two radicals: an ear on the left; and a stop on the right. Literally, anything you don’t want others to hear would be shameful. Shame can be distinguished from guilt: a total self-failure vis-à-vis a standard produces shame, while a specific self-failure results in guilt.1 The universal view of shame states that shame is one of the quintessential human emotions and feelings of shame are the same cross-culturally, which makes a lot of sense to me. Chinese culture values individuals who have a sense of shame, who know right from wrong and who have an awareness of falling short of a standard. In Western society it is not socially desirable to be shameless either, though what brings it about could be quite different. Culture plays a significant role in what precipitates shame, how shame is expressed and handled.

Thus, what is normal in one culture could be viewed as shameful in another. For example, sending aging parents with dementia to a nursing home for Chinese American caregivers is often viewed as something shameful as it violates the Confucian value of filial piety. Chinese families tend to rely heavily on family resources and …………………….

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