For instance, …
Greece, avoid the OK signal as it can be taken as obscene. Instead, use
the “thumbs up” signal. A note of caution, however; the “thumbs down”
signal is also considered rude! (The OK sign is obscene in Spain
In Bulgaria, the yes and no head gestures are
opposite of those used by Americans (nodding indicates “no,” while
shaking indicates “yes”).
Politeness and formality are very
important in Denmark. For example, you should not rise from a table
before your hostess does and women should always go through a door
In Belgium, it’s terribly important to
avoidpointing with your index finger, snapping your fingers at someone,
yawning, putting your feet up, or blowing your nose in the presence of
Loud conversations should be avoided,and line-jumping is quite taboo in The United Kingdom.
France, resting feet on chairs or tables, personal grooming, chewing
gum, yawning, scratching and loud conversations in public, talking with
hands in pockets are all considered very rude. (Us ugly Americans!)
In Germany, always knock before entering a closed door.
In the Netherlands, always wipe your feet before entering someone’s home and maintain direct eye contact when conversing.
displays of affection are uncommon inSweden. Also, when leaving
someone’s home, you should not put on your coat until you step
outside the doorway.
not whistle in public in the Soviet Union, and always turn to face
others if you must pass them to get to your seat in a theater.
In the Middle East:
consider the soles of the shoe to be the dirtiest part of the body,
avoid inadvertently pointing them or showing them to others.
The right hand always prevails so use it in all social situations.
Use a less firm grip when shaking hands than you would in America.
is widely accepted and is even common between men, but men should not
touch an Arabic woman unless she extends her hand first.
Personal distance is smaller than in other countries, so you will notice people standing much closer together.
Since direct eye contact is important, staring is not necessarily considered rude.
Never photograph someone without his/her permission.
When Arabs visit, do not allow your household pets in their presence.
Bangladesh, use only the right hand when eating. The left hand is
reserved solely for personal hygiene purposes. Also, never visit the
restroom during a meal. Be aware of the fact that the “thumbs up”
gesture is considered obscene in this country.
In Burma, never
touch the head on a Buddha image. Shoes should always be removed before
entering a mosque and usually before entering a home as well.
is a form of greeting, which you should acknowledge with your own round
of clapping. Sucking in air through the lips and teeth represents
surprise or indecisiveness. You can use this signal to your advantage
to modify a request before it is outright denied.
not touch women in India. Staring is also off limits. Ask permission
before photographing other people. Public whistling is considered
impolite. The head is considered a sacred part of the body and should
not be touched.
The OK gesture may be interpreted as “money” in Japan. . It is considered rude to blow your nose in public.
the Philippines you may be greeted with a flashing or quick lifting of
the eyebrows. Standing with your hands on your hips is interpreted as
anger or defiance. Observance of orderly lines is uncommon.
believe that a spirit resides in their doorsill. As such, you should
avoid stepping on doorsills when entering homes. Never pat someone on
the back or put your arm around the back of his chair. Both gestures
are considered offensive. Also, never toss an object to someone else as
it is considered rude.
Well … now there … don’t you feel that much more worldly?!
Dr. Glenn Livingston, Ph.D.
CEO, Psy Tech Inc.
22 Grandview Road
Windham, NH 03087