Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Nothing to say about this...discovery

If you come from North America or northern Europe, you are probably used to people saying what they mean and meaning what they say – but not every culture is so direct. In most Asia, the Middle Eastland southern Europe communication is far more complex, and non-verbal gestures are often used to convey a person’s true feelings.
However, when a simple gesture can have so many meanings, things can get a little tricky.

In most cultures, men stand before they are introduced to someone important in order to show politeness and respect. In the west, someone will usually offer to shake hands, yet this most basic of introductions can have implications.

Most American like a firm handshake, but if you shake a Frenchman’s hand that way; he’s likely to think you’re uncultured. The French prefer a light, short handshake, as do most eastern European countries. In the pearl of the orient Philippines, a quick raising of the eyebrows supersedes the need for handshakes; don’t worry, nothing is being insinuated.

The Russian are highly tactile greeters and a kiss on the lips is commonplace – misinterpret this and your friendship may well get off on the wrong foot. Be warned: don’t take this habit to nearby Uzbekistan.

If you’re on business in Hong Kong, passing your business card and accepting someone else’s should be done with both hands. In Japan, even a very small item should such as pencil must be passed with two hands. Just remember that in many middle and far eastern countries, it is rude to pass something with your left hand, which is considered “unclean”.

Smile and the world smile with you, right? Wrong. Different cultures have different reason for smiling at strangers is considered inappropriate behaviors. The Japanese may smile when they are confused or angry. In other parts of Asia, people may smile when they are embarrassed.

Did your mother not tell you that is rude to point? Well it is still best way to select an object in a country where you don’t speak the language, but better think twice about using your index finger to point to a person. A nod of the head is a much safer bet.

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