See below for 10 gestures to avoid whilst on your travels!
(photo by nate steiner)
1. In parts of Asia, and certainly in Thailand, it is taboo to pat someone on the head. The head is deemed sacred and it is best to avoid passing things over people’s heads too.
2. Greek people never show their palms to you. There is only one thing that can be deemed more insulting than holding your palm up to someone, and that is raising both at the same time! Be careful if you ever need to use your hand to gesture for anything that your palm is facing your body.
3. In the UK it is important to be very careful when using the two-fingered gesture made so famous by Winston Churchill. If you have the two fingers and the palm facing inwards then it is an insult, in much the same way as the raised middle finger is in most parts of the world.
4. The thumbs up sign which means “great” in the UK is deeply offensive to people in the Middle East, West Africa and South America. In parts of Europe it has other meanings too, so probably a gesture best avoided!
5. The A-OK sign where the thumb and finger next to it meet in an “O” can cause grave offence in Brazil and should be avoided at all costs.
6. Eating with your left hand and giving gifts with your left hand is considered offensive in most countries.
7. It is taboo in many Muslim countries to make eye contact with the opposite sex, let alone shake hands or touch in any way.
8. In the Philippines a curled index finger in a beckoning motion is regarded as a gesture so low one would only use it on dogs.
9. Flicking your teeth with your thumb (while saying “cutta”) is deeply offensive and is the same as the ubiquitous one fingered sign which will cause offence everywhere.
10. A clenched fist with the second and fifth fingers up is a favourite gesture amongst rock stars but to the Greeks, Italians, Spanish and others it means that your wife is sleeping with someone else!
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