Communication Barrier with Eye Contact for other Cultures

             Emigrating from India to the United States and adjusting to its environment, culture, and social norms has been an exciting learning experience for me. I was born and brought up in India where I spent the first 14 years of my life before I immigrated to America in July, 1998. For the past six years I have been learning and observing the American cultures, mainstream ideas, customs, beliefs, and norms. After every passing year I learn something new about the American culture and adapt to it. I remember the time when I was adapting to looking people in the eye and trying my best to maintain proper eye contact with another person. It was an awkward learning experience. Human beings in general use eye contact as a non-verbal tool of communication, but the way people use eye contact changes from place to place because of differences in environment, customs, and traditions.
             Growing up in an Asian Indian culture, I know that all Indians prefer minimal eye contact. It's considered rude in my culture to look other people directly in the eye, especially adults. In India, a lot of importance is given to politeness, obedience, and respect towards adults. Anyone older than you should be looked up to or respected. For example: when I am having a one-on-one conversations with my high school professors in India, my eyes would be just below their eye level (around the chin or neck area) as a sign of respect towards him or her. Before starting a conversation minimal eye contact is required. So, after I have made minimal eye contact (1 to 3 seconds) with the professor, it's an Indian tradition to look the person we are speaking to right below their eye level. All youngsters and teenagers in India must follow this custom. However, if you make direct eye contact with an adult (or a teacher) it's considered very rude, which might be followed by a scolding sometimes. Furthermore, you can not look around or at the ground while talking with ...

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