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Body Language : A Traveler’s Guide to Hand Gestures

I was reading this month’s issue of Conde Nast Traveler magazine, and found a really interesting article discussing the proper hand gestures to use when traveling to certain countries.

Because of language barriers, we travelers sometimes have to use our hands to help get our point across. The article Etiquette 101: Hand Gestures reveals which gestures will do just that…and which are sure to offend the person your communicating with. We don’t want that to happen, so keep on reading…

In the future, Two JetSet Divas plan to occasionally highlight gestures from a specific country (the good, the bad, and the ugly) or the meanings around the world for gestures we use here in the U.S.

We’ll start with some common gestures:

Thumbs Up
America – Generally means “Cool” or “That’s good!”. Tilt the hand a little and it could mean “hitchhiking”.
Nigeria, Greece, Southern Italy, and parts of Russia and the Middle East – Considered an obscene gesture.
Austria, France, Germany – Means the number one.
Japan – Means the number five. So, you might think you said “That’s good” and end up ordering five more!

America – Generally means “A-OK”.
France – Means “zero” or “nothing”.
Denmark and Italy – Could mean an insult.
Brazil, Paraguay, Guatemala – Obscene gesture.

Peace sign
America – Generally means “peace”. If reversed (palm in), the gesture can mean “peace out” or “I’m gone”.
U.K. and Australia – If reversed (palm in), gesture is considered obscene.

Here’s a nice, yet complex chart of gestures from the Conde Nast article. The next time you trek around the globe, make sure you use your hands wisely.


source: Global Business Etiquette


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