Amazing Body Language Secrets You Probably Don’t Know


If you enjoy studying different world cultures, the following essay will be of much use. Everyone who is going to visit a foreign country needs to know not only the basics of the local language, but also the essential facts about its culture, including the body language that is used by native population. Although body language is mostly a subtle way of communication, it actually tells a lot. All of us use different types of non-verbal communication in our day-to-day lives in order to deliver some portions of information about our feelings, thoughts and emotions that are not possible to communicate verbally. However, these small messages can have a completely or slightly different meaning in some other world cultures. Non-verbal communication includes handshakes and gestures that vary across different nations. In some countries, the non-verbal means of communications can be opposite to what everyone of us is used to, which can be challenging and sometimes offensive.

Most people do not pay attention to their body language, so that it becomes difficult to control the gestures we are all using. Our body language is influenced by our culture, and if you are travelling to other countries, it is important to change your habits and integrate into another culture in order to avoid misunderstanding. Here are some of the most unusual body language secrets peculiar to various cultures of the world. It is important to remember them especially if you are going abroad for educational or other purposes.

  • The first issue we are to discuss is the way in which people from different cultures greet each other. Thus, those who are going to New Zealand to study should not undermine learning the basics of the local greeting, which is known as Hongi. It traditionally stands for “Hello” except that instead of shaking hands, two people usually press their noses to each other. It is a rather intimate gesture that is used when greeting fellow students. Furthermore, in different parts of India, local people commonly greet one another by touching each other’s feet. There are commonly some differences across various parts of the country and different interpretations of such greeting, but in general, this is a sign of respect towards the elderly people.
  • Western societies like US and Great Britain are known to greet other people using handshakes and hearty hugs, while in such countries as Italy and France, a handshake is regarded as a more personalized kind of greeting. As a rule, it lasts longer, which makes some foreigners uncomfortable with such manner of greeting. A cheek kiss made twice is common for such countries as Spain and France, and this is exactly what surprises most visitors to these countries.
  • If you have arrived to the Netherlands, you are likely to expect a triple cheek kiss, which you should remember so as not to be taken by surprise. These small expressions of affection are regarded as too intimate in the Asian countries and are not allowed unless they are made indoors. It is also common to use lips in body language across different parts of the world. For instance, in Latin America and Philippines, the local people use lips to point to something instead of using fingers or hands.
  • As for the arm and hand gestures, these also vary across various parts of the world. They can be used to convey absolutely different meanings. Thus, it is widely known that hand gestures are among the most frequently misinterpreted of all non-verbal messages, so that you can easily find yourself in an unexpected situation. For instance, Italians use their hands a lot when talking, while in Japan, extreme use of hand gestures is considered inappropriate and impolite. Italians usually tap their nose to convey a message of warning, although many students studying in Great Britain usually use this gesture when discussing some confidential information. In this culture, such gesture means “mind your own business”.
  • If it is your first time in Belgium, you should know that sliding your hand under your chin during the conversation means that you want someone to get out. Besides, you might know that a thumbs-up gesture universally stands for “great” or “OK”. However, if you are in Greece and happen to make such a sign, you are likely to offend the locals because in this country such gesture is equal to the middle finger sign in the Western countries.
  • If you have come to the USA, you should know the meaning of the “V” gesture (it is made similarly to the peace gesture, but the palm is directed inwards). This gesture denotes victory, although in Great Britain and Australia, this sign may be offensive as it non-verbally conveys the meaning of a swearing word. That is why you need to take care of that if you are going to study in these countries.
  • Another issue to be explored is head movements. Just like in the case of hand gestures, facial expressions and movements of head may vary across different countries of the world conveying different meanings. Thus, in Eastern Europe, the traditional nodding or head shaking stands for “yes” and “no” accordingly. This might actually be slightly confusing if you are a foreigner. It can be explained by the fact that in various countries, the nodding and shaking of the head have a completely different meaning, so watch out if you are going to study in Eastern Europe.
  • In Japan, it is considered offensive and impolite to stare at another person for a long time. This is regarded by the Japanese people as a sign of aggression. In fact, Japanese people have many gestures that completely differ from those of other cultures, so you should have a profound knowledge of the Japanese body language before going to study in Japan.

To conclude, it is always interesting to explore other cultures and visit foreign countries, but you should first of all learn the body language etiquette of this or that country before you go there. This will prevent various unexpected situations and make you feel more comfortable with the local people.

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