Papua New Guinean Culture

Communication

Verbal

  • Direct Communication: Papua New Guineans tend to be in their communication on general topics. However, they are typically sensitive on cultural matters and can become easily ashamed. Thus, Papua New Guineans are often less when discussing sensitive topics such as their culture. Moreover, criticism is best expressed through a third party who can pass on the message rather than face to face – especially in the case of men.
  • Communication Style: The typical style of communication is informal and relaxed. There are not many strict social related to how one ought to communicate to particular people. However, this will vary depending on the structure of the community. For example, in chiefly social structures, there are specific ways of communicating to the chief.


Non-Verbal

  • Personal Space: It is common to have approximately an arm's length of personal space, especially when communicating with someone of the opposite gender. As people become more familiar with one another, personal distance reduces. For example, in family circles, people tend to stand very close to one another. However, crowding in public is thought to be acceptable and normal.
  • Expressions: Movements and gestures involving the head, eyes or eyebrows are generally relied upon to add meaning to communication. Pay attention to these expressions.
  • Gestures: Most often, people will point with their chin rather than their finger. A short hiss and a sideways motion of the head often refer to disgust. Typically, one points their fingers downward and makes a scratching motion to gesture for a person to come.
  • Eye Contact: eye contact or staring is not usually considered rude. Moreover, avoiding eye contact is seen to be negative and may be interpreted as communicating slyness.
  • Pointing: Pointing at someone who is not a part of the conversation tends to be interpreted as gossiping about that person and can cause offense.

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