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This study looks at the effectiveness of non-verbal communication across cultures in Cameroon. Less attention has been put on the effectiveness of Nonverbal communication across cultures in the world. Non-Verbal is therefore a process of generating meaning using behaviour other than words. When we think about communication, we most often focus on how we exchange information using words. While verbal communication is important, humans relied on nonverbal communication for thousands of years before we developed the capability to communicate with words.

The problem identified in this research is the cultural differences Vis a vis non-verbal communication, Culture is often at the root of communication challenges. Our culture influences how we approach problems and how we participate in groups and in communities.  This study seeks to examine the effectiveness of non-verbal communication across Cultures taking the case study of English and French Cultures in Cameroon.

Specifically, this study aims at finding out the role nonverbal behaviours play in cross-cultural communication and how effective nonverbal communication is in cross-cultural settings and its importance In order to successfully bring out its effectiveness, the researcher chooses the quantitative research methodology which requires statistical analysis

                      CHAPTER ONE


1.1 Background to the study

Communication is a part of human life. It cannot be avoided even for a minute because as social beings that we are, one can not communicate, for even children have their own ways of passing across messages to their parents and such messages are understood within the context in which the communication is made, which can be sometimes surprising to some people. Communication is a dynamic and wide process with its ever-changing roles of sending and receiving information, ideas, emotions and the working of the mind. Communication is not only a word but a term in itself with multiple interpretations.

Leyton, (2011) defines communication as the process of transmitting information and common understanding from one person to another. Communication plays a major role in our life’s by impacting us economically, socially, politically and even culturally. Sometimes people see deaf and dumps communicating with a normal human being, it usually becomes so interesting that they might begin to wonder if they both really understand each other.

This takes us to a different level in human interaction with others ” non-verbal communication” nonverbal communication encompasses all forms of communication that are devoid of spoken and written languages, an exclusive illustration of all possible ways of interpersonal communication that are done non-verbally. (Raj & Koh 2012).

Researchers Like Eliot (2011) argue that nonverbal communication is greatly influenced by the culture it is associated with. This is because of the variedness in cultures and so one thing in culture might mean something else in another culture. For instance, an English person might consider looking straight into a person’s eyes (eye contact) while communicating to mean telling the truth (honesty). It may also mean you are paying attention to the person you are talking with. Meanwhile, to French direct eye contact between men and women during communication is often taken as a sign of sexual interest.

In a word as complex as ours, each of us is shaped by many factors and culture is one of the powerful forces that act on us. The way people communicate varies widely between and even within a culture. Marcell et al (1997) define culture as a group or community with which we share a common experience that shapes the way we understand the world. Matsumoto (2006) defines culture as a shared system of socially transmitted behaviour that describes, defines and guides people’s ways of life, communicated from one generation to another. He further goes again in saying that, the characterized culturally diverse interpretation of a particular nonverbal

Communication is a factor that makes consideration of cultural differences when sending or receiving nonverbal messages a necessity, because of a situation whereby, a message that has a particular meaning in one society can have a completely different meaning in another society.

Talking about Cameroon culture, Cameroon people comprise of various ethnic groups like the Ewondo, the Bantus, Bakossi, Kirdis, Bakweri just to name a few and all these groups have contributed to the development of the society and growth of the country’s culture.  Cameroon has often been referred to as Africa’s in miniature because of its rich cultural background. Cameroon culture is an amalgamation of the traditions and customs of the indigenous people within society. Different facets of the culture of Cameroon are a witness in the language, literature and music of the country.

The existence of approximately 250 languages in Cameroon is also as a result of the existence of the different ethnic groups in the country. However, there exist only two official languages in the country which are English and French.

The history of French and cultures in Cameroon can be traced as far back as 1919 when Britain and France took over the territory from the Germans after

The First World War (Batey, 2015)  asserts that one of the landmarks of the First World War on Cameroonians was the introduction of the English and French cultures by Britain and France respectively.  Thus, there is therefore the need to show how effective people communicate when they meet with others from different cultures.

1.2 Statement of the problem

We all communicate with others all the time- in our homes, in our workplaces, in the groups we belong to and in our communities. No matter how well we understand each other, communication is hard. Just imagine how often we hear statements like” she didn’t really understand what I meant to say. Culture is often at the root of communication challenges. Our culture influences how we approach problems and how we participate in groups and in communities. People spend about 75% on non-verbal communication each time they communicate by understanding and sending nonverbal cues.

It should also be noted that silence is also part of non-verbal communication. People use nonverbal cues to help drive interaction and keep others engaged. But what happens when our body language is not the same language meaning as that of people from different cultures?

1.3 Research questions

1) What are some common challenges of non-verbal communication across cultures?

2) What role do nonverbal behaviours play in cross-cultural communication?

1.4 Research hypotheses

It is no doubt to say that effective understanding of nonverbal communication is pretty difficult. This research work is based on the following Hypothesis

Ho1 There are some significant common challenges to non-verbal communication across cultures

Ho2 nonverbal behaviours   play a significant role in cross-cultural communication

1.5 Objectives of the study

1.5.1 General objectives

This study has as main objective to understand the uses of nonverbal communication across cultures in Cameroon and to examine its effectiveness. The general objectives of this study aimed at finding out how culture influences nonverbal communication. 

1.5.2   Specific objectives.

In order to achieve the general objectives above, the following specific objectives will be attained

  1. The study aims at finding out if nonverbal communication can be used effectively across English and French cultures in Cameroon and challenges people face when they communicate nonverbally with others from different cultures.
  2. It also aims at finding out the role nonverbal behaviours play in cross-cultural communication and how effective nonverbal communication is in cross-cultural settings.
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