Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 11

Communication is far more than an exchange of words.

Facial expressions, hand gestures, posture, eye contact,

even silence all of them are constantly sending
messages about our attitudes, our emotions, our status,
our relationships.

Body language and other nonverbal cues vary as widely

as spoken language among different cultures. If you smile
at the German woman, and she doesnt smile back, what
does that mean? Is she angry? Bored? Lost in thought? To
really understand what the German woman is saying,
youll need to understand German body language.

Nonverbal cues are critical in the workplace. These cues

tell one whether your staff understands his instructions,
whether his customer is interested in buying, and much
more. The nonverbal language we learned while growing
up seems natural and normal. And while some facial
expressions, such as fear or disgust, are universal

biological reactions, most other nonverbal cues are

learned behavior with no universal interpretation.
Some of the non Verbal communications across the
cultures are:
Personal space is the distance two people keep between
themselves in order to feel comfortable. If the amount of
space is too great, the person approaching you will seem
cold, shy, or unfriendly. If the amount of space is too small,
the person approaching will seem aggressive, rude, or
Personal space is influenced by gender. Two women
will naturally stand closer than two men or a man and a
Personal space is influenced by status. A person of high
status is normally instinctively granted more space. This
distinction will be more pronounced in cultures that have a
greater consciousness of status and social class, such as
Asian cultures.
Personal space is influenced by the degree of intimacy
in a relationship. Good friends stand closer than two
people whose relationship is strictly business. A
romantically involved couple stands closer yet. Many Latin
American and African cultures place heavy emphasis on
personal relationships in their business dealings, which
will shrink the personal space bubble down from business
size to personal size.
Personal space is influenced by the space available.
Colleagues may be comfortable standing right next to
each other in a crowded elevator, but not in an empty
room. Most people will cope with this collapsing of

personal space by facing outward, rather than toward the

other person, and avoiding eye contact.
The standard personal space of a culture is also
strongly influenced by available space. People from
crowded places, such as India or New York City, will be
accustomed to a smaller circle of personal space. People
from empty places such as Mongolia or Montana will
generally have a much larger personal space bubble.

Eye Contact:

The duration and frequency of eye contact communicates

a great dealhonesty, respect, shame, interestbut the
rules governing eye contact and what it means differ
widely among cultures.
Among Latinos, it is respectful to avoid direct eye
contact with authority figures.
For Muslims, direct eye contact between
members of the opposite sex is considered bold and
Arabs have greater eye contact than Americans
among members of the same gender.
Eye Contact
Among Asians, direct eye contact is very brief,
with the gaze then sliding away to the side, especially
with superiors or members of the opposite sex.
Southern Europeans generally engage in more
eye contact than Americans.

Britons generally engage in less eye contact than

The volume at which we speak says nearly as much as
the words themselves, communicating shyness,
uncertainty, anger, enthusiasm, and more by the degree to
which it varies from a baseline. But normal baseline
volumes also vary among cultures and among individuals.
White Americans typically interpret raised voices as
a sign of anger or hostility. Among non-white Americans
and other ethnic groups such as Latin Americans or
Africans, raised voices may simply signify an exciting
Baseline speaking volume is generally lower among
Asians and Western Europeans. American tourists in
these parts of the world are often seen as rude and
In some African cultures, whispering is a signal of
witchcraft, plotting, or malicious gossip. Good manners
dictate speaking loudly enough for everyone present to
hear what you are saying
Hand Gesture Meaning
Hand gestures form the mainstay of this communication,
with gesture meaning being studied and researched by
universities across the world. Researchers have
pinpointed the brain structures likely involved in the
formation and development of these hand gestures, areas
such as Brocas Area and Wernickes area.

Chironomia is the name given to the effective use of hand

gestures in debate as body language conveys additional
meaning to the spoken word.


In fact, the use of hand gestures is thought by some

researchers to be the precursor to modern language. This
theory, known as gestural theory, postulates that
communication of hand gestures in our primitive ancestors
eventually led to communication through the medium of
speech. The evidence for this theory comes from three
main sources:
The areas of our brain for hand communication and
oral communication are approximately in the same region.
Our closest relatives, the Apes, use hand gestures
that bear some resemblance to the gestures used by
humans today.
The shift to vocalization took place because hand
gestures require individuals to see each other and,
therefore, vocalization would allow the expression of ideas
when the individuals are out of view of each other.Some of
the most popular hand gestures, taking a look at how such
simply symbols can have markedly different meanings
depending upon which culture you happen to be in.
Ok Sign

The Ok sign is a hand gesture formed by attaching the

thumb and the index finger in a defined circular shape.
Usually, the remaining fingers are relaxed or pointing
upward, depending on the context. The gesture meaning
for this ubiquitous symbol is as varied as it is widespread,
ranging from expressions of indifference to ones of anger.
The symbol is also called by the name of A-Ok, a phrase
attributable to NASA officer John A.In terms of gesture
meaning, the Ok sign has an incredible number of different
meanings. In ordinary Western context, it can refer to safe
underwater activity as theres no other way to
communicate this message while submerged. The same is
true for its everyday use in many English-speaking
Western countries to signify that everything is alright,
particularly when two people are distanced or have
interfering noise hindering their communication. In China,
the symbol is used to refer to the number three, as three
fingers tend to hang from the hand, while in Japan, it
refers to money, particularly when the hand is faced
upside-down. In France and Australia, the symbol can also
refer to the number zero.
Paranormal occultists consider the Ok sign a symbol of
Satan as the symbol appears to represent 666 with the
Sticking with this notion of zero, the Finnish people have a
unique way of representing this symbol in a wholly positive
light. In Finland, one may need to spend time in the
Finnish Defense Forces, with conscripts counting down
the days theyve got left to complete. As they approach
zero, the conscripts will notate this fact by signifying the
Ok sign, a symbol often used to taunt other enlisted
members who havent yet completed their conscripted
term! In this respect, the Finnish people use the Ok sign in
a celebratory way, a way that no other country has
managed to adopt, further highlighting the highly
discrepant way in which hand gestures are used
throughout the world.
Similarly, many countries take open offense at the very

presentation of the Ok sign, particularly in the Arab world.

There, this example of sign language is considered
borderline threatening, as if to suggest to the other person
that youre going to get them back for some ill deed. As
you can imagine, this may not go down well with certain
individuals, so its best avoided when you visit their
heartland. The symbol is also considered an insult in
countries such as Turkey and Brazil, where its akin to
being called a certain part of your body! Many South
American countries employ the Ok sign as an insult to
others, particularly in a derogatory way of calling
somebody a homosexual.
Thumbs Up

As one of the most famous hand gestures in the world, the

thumbs up sign is created by forming a closed fist with the
thumb erected above. The common meaning is, of course,
to signify approval, or inversed to express disapproving
sentiments. This is widespread across the world, from the
United States to India. In fact, it was from the United
States itself that the gesture meaning gradually permeated
into society as pilots during World War II used it in
communication with ground crew to signal take-off. It has
since remained popular and considered positive in many


different and varying societies, but with some notable

In Iran, the thumbs up signal can refer to a male sex
In Sardinia, this symbol is considered highly offensive
and therefore should be avoided if one wished to
Prior to World War II, the thumbs up signal meant the
same as Up Yours!; a negative connotation that has
since fallen out of use.
In other Western European cultures, such as Germany,
France, and Hungary, the thumbs up symbol has come to
represent the number one as opposed to the traditional
meaning seen in other Western countries. The symbol is
more likely to receive a neutral or negative response, even
though its use is commonplace across such media
sources. Its best to avoid communicating the thumbs up
symbol in Iran and West Africa, as its generally
considered an obscene and offensive gesture.
Sign of the Horns

This symbol has been used for hundreds of years in a

wide variety of different cultures and countries with
meanings ranging from the superstitious right through to

offensiveness. The story, though, begins with the Buddha

as it was he who first popularized the symbol as a
mechanism to ward of demons and other supernatural
bodies. This same protection effect is seen in many
Mediterranean countries, such as Italy, where the symbol
is the equivalent of touching wood to bring forth good
luck. In fact, many Italian politicians, such as Silvio
Berlusconi, have even used this symbol in public when
visiting people or areas of distress.This Italian connection
also reflects the modern day use of the sign of the horns,
with heavy metal performers such as Ronnie James Dio of
Black Sabbath. Dio claimed to employ the symbol given
his grandmother used it to ward off the evil eye
(malocchio); and the symbol came into popular use
thereon. In many countries, though, its considered highly
offensive, such as in many South American countries.
Here, it represents infidelity and, so, waving the sign of the
horns in an individuals face is more-or-less waving
infidelity in their face hardly something someone would
consider a compliment!

Fig Sign

The somewhat popular

fig sign is formed by
placing the thumb in
between the two
adjacent fingers. The
symbol goes all the way back to Ancient Rome where it
signified an apotropaic way of warding off evil, similar to
the way the sign of the horns is used in Italy today. In fact,

the fig sign was once popular in Italy for precisely the
opposite reason, as it was considered obscene and
offensive, akin to representing female genitalia in public.
The Italian poet of the middle ages, Dante Alighieri,
famously made reference to the symbol in his magnum
opus, the Divine Comedy.
However, even though the fig sign continues to possess
this offensive nature in many countries ranging from
Slavic nations to Turkey there are some countries where
it adopts a more neutral meaning. Take Kenya, for
example, where the symbol is used to represent the
number five (by a particular group called the Massai
tribe!). This is no less true of the situation in Greece. Here,
the fig sign carries the same weight of insult as the
mountza symbol the traditional symbol of insult in
modern Greece. The mountza involves extending the
fingers and palm of the hand in someones face, the
nearer you are, the more offensive it is! Depending on
where you are in Greece, either the fig sign or the
mountza symbol is considered the most popular way to
offend. In the Ionian Islands, for example, the fig sign is
widely used, whereas this sign is not appreciably practiced
on mainland Greece, where the mountza remains the
main symbol of insult. The mountza has to be one of the
most unusual examples of hand gestures but, then again,
many other hand gestures would appear weird to the
Greeks too!

Shaka Sign


The shaka sign represents the number six in China

In American sign language, the symbol refers to
surfing.In many Caribbean islands, the shaka sign
suggests a potential sexual exchange!In Australia and
New Zealand, the symbol acts to depict an invitation to
smoke weed.In Hawaii, it refers to friendship and solidarity