As we know each country has its own customs and culture, but sometimes we are not aware that each place we visit has its own body language too. Here at mapthegap.co.uk we’ve compiled a list of a few to watch out for - you never know, this advice may get you out of some sticky situations.
Don’t show the soles of your feet - In some parts of Asia such as Thailand it is considered rude to point the bottom of your feet at people when you’re sitting down, these are the lowest part of the body and therefore also the dirtiest. Make sure you don’t point at things with your feet or rest them up on a table either.
Don’t point with your finger – Again, in some parts of Asia, such as the Philippines, it is bad manners to point with your finger, instead you will see many Filipinos pointing with their lips.
Don’t beckon someone with your index finger – In many countries, including those in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America you should not tell someone to ‘come here’ by beckoning with your finger, as this can be insulting. Instead you should point your fingers downwards and wave your whole hand to call someone.
Don’t pat someone on the head – In countries such as China or Japan it is insulting to pat someone on the head or ruffle their hair as this is the highest part of the body and is therefore seen as spiritual.
Be careful where you form a circle with your forefinger and thumb – This sign, which generally means ‘OK’ in the UK or the US, has a multitude of meanings in other countries. In Brazil or Germany it is seen as an obscene gesture, in Japan it means money and in France it means zero or nothing.
Don’t pass something to someone with one hand – In China, South Korea and Japan you should always give someone something or take something with two hands, as this is a sign of respect. This is especially true with business or calling cards and money.
Remove your shoes when entering a religious building – Unlike churches here in the UK, you are not allowed to wear footwear inside religious buildings, such as temples in Asia or the Middle East, as this is very disrespectful. You should leave your shoes at the door and collect them again when you leave.
These are just a few dos and don’ts about body language across the world, but there are many more. Remember to read up about social etiquette before you go, to avoid being rude or embarrassed. Most guide books will have a short section on etiquette for you to study.