Self and social awareness (SSA), the ability to think about your decisions and intentions as byproducts of your peculiar culture, is a key principle of entrepreneurial leadership. Though most of our research on SSA has tended to look at its verbal aspects: what leaders communicate about opportunity using words will be interpreted differently across cultures.
But here’s some interesting research presented at the 2011 International Association for Conflict Management Conference in Istanbul, that supports the relevance of SSA in non-verbal communication as well.
…as much as 65 percent of social meaning is conveyed through nonverbal means, and other research has shown that these signals and cues — which are assumed by many people to be “automatic” and representative of true feelings — are often trusted over spoken words. The problem is that such signals can mean different things in different cultures and thus can be incorrectly understood, with unintended and sometimes disastrous results…Executives who learn how to “read” what the other side is really saying with body signals — and who are sensitive to how their own signals might be perceived — will be a step ahead in negotiating international deals.
You can read more details in Strategy and Business.