I discovered an interesting infographic recently that shows the top 7 common American hand gestures that can get you in trouble abroad. If you are an independent recruiter involved in international recruiting who travels outside North America to meet with clients and candidates, take a few minutes to review the infographic below as it may save you from an embarrassing situation. The infographic shows a drawing of each gesture, a description of why it is offensive, and the countries in which to avoid using that gesture.
I have a friend who went to dinner in Australia and inadvertently used gesture 2 on the infographic to communicate the total number of people having dinner in his party. Unfortunately, his gesture communicated something else! He walked away not being seated for dinner and not understanding what happened. He returned and apologized and explained he didn’t mean anything negative. His party was then graciously seated for dinner.
In addition to this infographic, the following books may be of interest to you if you are involved in international recruiting and travel around the world.
Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands – How to Do Business in Sixty Countries by Terri Morrison, Wayne A. Conaway, and George A. Borden, Ph.D.
This book contains information on cultural overviews, behavior styles, negotiating techniques, protocol, and business practices.
Gestures – The DO’s and TABOOs of Body Language Around the World by Roger E. Axtell
While the infographic I shared earlier covered 7 gestures to avoid, this book goes into greater detail about the number and use of gestures around the world.
One gesture, in particular, is called “The Ultimate Gesture. ” The author purported that the ultimate gesture carries certain welcome characteristics unlike any other gesture.
- First, this “ultimate gesture” is known everywhere in the world.
- Second, it is rarely misunderstood. Primitive tribes and world leaders alike know and use this gesture.
- Third, scientists believe this particular gesture actually releases chemicals called endorphins into the system that create a feeling of mild euphoria.
- Fourth, as you travel around the world, this gesture may help you slip out of the prickliest of difficult situations.
What is this gesture? The smile.
Have you ever inadvertently made a gesture when traveling that inadvertently communicated something offensive?