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Hand gestures…are they really necessary?

by E

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March 15th, 2011

Ok, so I’m totally guilty of using my hands when I talk. Even on the phone, I am guilty. I may not use gestures to indicate certain feelings or emotions that someone may provoke, nonetheless, I still catch myself on occasion moving my hands as if the person on the other side of the phone can see where I am pointing (this happens a lot when I’m directing someone to a certain location). However, if traveling to another country I would be extremely cautious of using my hands during conversation. There are many gestures that can be offensive to other cultures. Since I’m not all-knowing in hand gesture translation, I think it best to keep my hands right by my side until I can get a feel for the native’s gestures and what may be appropriate. I haven’t had any experience with using hand gestures in other countries, but knowing my luck, I would innocently express positive feeling and end up seriously offending someone.

Anyone out there had an experience where you accidentally offended someone with a hand gesture that did not ‘translate’ in another country? I’d love to hear your story!

One Response

  1. Lynne says:

    We lived in the Middle East for five years. They have a very useful hand gesture that I wish the whole world would use. It means, “Please wait.” You put all four fingers and your thumb together and hold you hand with your five digits pointing up. Simple, but an effective way to acknowledge that you see a person, but ask them to wait a moment when you’re busy doing something else.

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