Navigating Nonverbal Communication in Different Cultures
- Familiarize yourself with the culture.
Before attempting to interpret a gesture, it is important to be aware of the cultural context in which it is used.
- Be aware of the different meanings of gestures.
Different gestures can have different meanings in different cultures. For example, the thumb-up gesture has three meanings in Britain, Australia and New Zealand, but in some countries, such as Greece, its main meaning is ‘get stuffed’.
- Follow the rule ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’.
This rule can help you avoid any potential embarrassing situations.
- Be aware of the power and superiority signals.
The thumb is also used, in combination with other gestures, as a power and superiority signal or in situations where people try to get us ‘under their thumb’.
- Be aware of the V sign.
The V sign is popular throughout Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain and carries an ‘up yours’ interpretation. In most parts of Europe, however, the palm facing in version still means ‘victory’.
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