skip to content



Many people many minds!! Culture incorporates various habits, way of life, rituals and great many various both verbal and non-verbal signs, symobls and cues which may lead to communication mis/understanding due to the lack of knowledge related to other habits of our present/future communication partners. This project refers to everyday life customs/habits/rituals but most significantly it relates to our L's future business life. We - the teachers are there to constantly promote our Ls' culture awareness of various forms of greetings around the world, among other things, in some of the following situations: ways of getting to know each other, parting rituals; inviting... kissing twice or 3 times; handshaking or a bowing.../ in order to make them competent citizens of the modern world of respect for divesities! The objectives and goals are: 1. to display various forms of greetings around the world, 2. to reseach their culture-related roots, 3. to practise various forms of greetings in class, 4. to actively involve our Ls in this matter, 5. to show both verbal and nonverbal forms of world greetings forms, 6. to foster international understanding and reinforce own and L's sensitivity of other people's cultures, 7. and finally, but not the least important, to establish mutual trust and friendship among as many EL Ts around the world as possible: this projecect UNITES AND PROVIDES US WITH SO MANY PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL OPPORTUINITES!!!

Age range
10 - 20
Melita Vidmar
Project stage
In progress
Last update
6 years ago
5 stars
Rate this project
Join this project


Culture refers to the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving.
Culture is the systems of knowledge shared by a relatively large group of people.
Culture is communication, communication is culture.
Culture in its broadest sense is cultivated behavior; that is the totality of a person's learned, accumulated experience which is socially transmitted, or more briefly, behavior through social learning.
A culture is a way of life of a group of people--the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next.
Culture is symbolic communication. Some of its symbols include a group's skills, knowledge, attitudes, values, and motives. The meanings of the symbols are learned and deliberately perpetuated in a society through its institutions.
Culture consists of patterns, explicit and implicit, of and for behavior acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievement of human groups, including their embodiments in artifacts; the essential core of culture consists of traditional ideas and especially their attached values; culture systems may, on the one hand, be considered as products of action, on the other hand, as conditioning influences upon further action.
Culture is the sum of total of the learned


Below: Namaste: Indian greeting
namaste- indian greeting.jpg



When meeting for the first time, a handshake is the most common greeting. But even a handshake can be a different experience in China. First of all it may be held for a longer time than Americans are used to and sometimes it may be in a flimsy manner. In order to show special respect, such as to elderly people or government officials, a slight bow might be given.

Affection for children is shown by patting gently on the shoulder or cheek, but the head of a child and especially an adult should not usually be touched by another person. It is traditionally considered an almost sacred part of the body. When addressing a person, his family name or title or both are used rather than his given name.

The idea of saving face (both one’s own and that of others) is strong in Chinese society. Frankness or abruptness, especially in offering criticism of any kind, is to be carefully avoided. People are generally reserved, quiet, refined, gentle and friendly. They respect a person who is friendly and who carefully avoids hurting the feelings of others. Loud, untactful or boisterous behavior is usually regarded as very poor taste.

It is usual for individuals to greet when they meet each other. It is not only a sign of recognition but a sign of a happiness at each other's sight. Social transactions necessitate this initial conviviality, and culture crystallizes the form it takes. It is well known that greetings differ from country to country, and from culture to culture.

Gestures and postures are accompanied by verbal ejaculations and utterances that are also stylised. Greeting is thus a mosaic of movements and words constituting on intimation of thoughts and sentiments.
In human society it is an approach mechanism; it no doubt assumes more often than not the air of a mere formality, but is not devoid of social and emotional significance in human relations. Often, it is a necessary prelude to satisfactory transactions. The warmth and readiness of the greeting conveys much more than words and gestures.
NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION /source: Givens: Nonverbal online dictionary/
Concept. 1. The process of sending and receiving wordless messages by means of facial expressions, gaze, gestures, postures, and tones of voice. 2. Also included are grooming habits, body positioning in space, and consumer product design (e.g., clothing cues, food products, artificial colors and tastes, engineered aromas, media images and computer-graphic displays). Nonverbal cues include all expressive signs, signals and cues (audio, visual, tactile, chemical, etc. [see AFFERENT CUE])--which are used to send and receive messages apart from manual sign language and speech.

Usage: Each of us gives and responds to literally thousands of nonverbal messages daily in our personal and professional lives--and while commuting back and forth between the two. From morning's kiss to business suits and tense-mouth displays at the conference table, we react to wordless messages emotionally, often without knowing why. The boss's head-nod, the clerk's bow tie, the next-door neighbor's hairstyle--we notice the minutia of nonverbal behavior because their details reveal a. how we relate to one another, and b. who we think we are.

Evolution. Anthropologist Gregory Bateson has noted that our nonverbal communication is still evolving: "If . . . verbal language were in any sense an evolutionary replacement of communication by means of kinesics and paralanguage, we would expect the old, predominantly iconic systems to have undergone conspicuous decay. Clearly they have not. Rather, the kinesics of men have become richer and more complex, and paralanguage has blossomed side by side with the evolution of verbal language" (Bateson 1968:614).

FAQ: A frequently asked question is, "What percent of our communication is nonverbal?" According to Kramer, "94% of our communication is nonverbal, Jerry" (Seinfeld, January 29, 1998). Kramer's estimate (like the statistics of anthropologist Ray Birdwhistell [65%; Knapp 1972] and of psychologist Albert Mehrabian [93%; 1971]) are hard to verify. But the proportion of our emotional communication that is expressed apart from words surely exceeds 99%. (See below, Media.)

Kinds of cues. Body-language signals may be a. learned, b. innate, or c. mixed. Eye-wink, thumbs-up, and military-salute gestures, for instance, are clearly learned. Eye-blink, throat-clear, and facial-flushing cues, on the other hand, are clearly inborn or innate. Laugh, cry, shoulder-shrug, and most other body-language signals are "mixed," because they originate as innate actions, but cultural rules later shape their timing, energy, and use. Body-language researchers do not always agree on the nature-nurture issue, however. Like Darwin, human biologists suppose that many body-motion signs are inborn. Like Birdwhistell, many cultural anthropologists propose that most or even all gestures are learned, while others combine the biological and cultural approaches. Research by psychologist Paul Ekman and his colleagues has shown that the facial expressions of disgust, surprise, and other primary emotions are universal across cultures.

preuzmi (1).jpg

Useful Arabic Greetings & Farewells

Greetings & Farewells


Ahlan wa-Sahlan


Ahlan Bik (M)


Ahlan Biki (F)


Ahlan Bikum (pl)

Hello (Formal)

Aasalaamu Aleikum


Wa-Aleikum Aassalaam







Nice To Meet You

Fursa Sa'eeda

Good Morning

Sabah il Kheer


Sabah il Noor

Good Evening

Masa il Kheer


Masa il Noor

How Are You

Kayf Halak (M)


Kayf Halick (F)

I Am Well

Qwayyis (M)


Qwayysa (F)

Thank be to God


Good Night

Tisbah ala Kheer (M)


Tisbahi ala Kheer (F)

Good Bye

Ma'a Salaama

Down is just an example of OK non-verbala message... and there are hundreds more: the same message of different and even insulting meaning depending on a specific culture code in use for a specific situation.


Singles are more aware than most of the plethora of meeting and greeting gestures that exist today. A first date is often a springboard to awkwardness, most commonly at the end of the evening. You might recall the “Seinfeld” episode where Jerry asks George to help him interpret the airport greeting he receives from a girl he recently met. Even with George’s help, Jerry couldn’t figure out whether he was hosting a friend or girlfriend for the weekend.

Most of us keep a running list of gestures and meanings going in our head…he touched my arm, he held my hand, will he kiss me goodnight…should I kiss him? Here are a few of the most common greetings and gestures to make your interpretation exercise a bit easier.

Double cheek kiss
More common in Europe, the double cheek kiss has made its way across the pond. Both cheeks are gently kissed, with the slightly awkward moment of figuring out which direction is first (left or right). Although the double cheek is nice, it’s not necessary. One cheek is sufficient. This type of kiss is definitely not meant to imply anything romantic.

The hand-kiss is offered by a woman to a man (the man kissing the hand). According to Wikipedia, the hand-kiss is a gesture of extreme politeness where the woman offering it is expected to be of same or higher social status than the gentleman executing it and it’s considered impolite to refuse an offered hand. Thankfully, hand-kissing has become rare and is mostly restricted to conservative upper class, diplomats, or when meeting the Pope!

Image by

High Five
The ubiquitous high five is considered to be a celebratory gesture made by two people, each raising one hand to slap the raised hand of the other — usually meant to communicate mutual satisfaction to spectators or to extend congratulations from one person to another. If one initiates a high five by raising a hand into the air and no one consummates the celebration by slapping the raised hand, the initiator is said to be "left hanging." This is considered to be somewhat embarrassing and impolite. Worse, the overused gesture can become tiresome and downright annoying. Advice to all: less is more.

The most used greeting, the handshake is standard fare for men. Women have adapted well, although some use too much pressure or grip, also known as “manshakes”, which can  immediately alienate the recipient. On the other hand (no pun intended), weak handshakes are sometimes referred to as 'limp' or 'cold'. Generally it is considered inappropriate, if not outright insulting to the initiator side, to reject a handshake without good reason. Always acceptable and appropriate, but definitely not romantic.

The hug is one of the most common human signs of love and affection, along with kissing. Unlike some other forms of physical intimacy, it is practiced publicly and privately without stigma in many countries, religions and cultures. Hugging has been proven to have health benefits too. One study has shown that hugs increase levels of oxytocin and reduces blood pressure.

Hugging has the most leeway in terms of meaning, since they can range from the romantic cuddling type to a simple friendly greeting. Factors include: closeness or tightness, use of one or both arms, and of course, the length of time the hug lasts. Advice: Other gestures will support the true meaning of hugs received on a date.

Romantic Kiss
Anthropologists have not reached a conclusion as to whether kissing is learned or a behavior from instinct. Kissing allows prospective mates to taste and smell each other's pheromones for biological compatibility. In Western culture, kissing is most commonly an expression of affection. Definitely a loving gesture!

Image by fotos

Air Kiss
The air kiss is a ritual or social gesture associated with celebrities and models; based in practicality, air kisses are used to greet without disturbing one’s makeup. 

The air kiss is the pretense of kissing, with lips pursed as if kissing, but without actually touching the other person's body. The gesture may also be accompanied by the "mwah" sound. Use to greet friends; not for romantic use.

Mistletoe Kiss
Come the holiday season, you may decide to test the fabled powers of mistletoe. Mistletoe is a Christmas tradition, and all too often an opportunity for someone to steal a kiss from a person who would not normally welcome such an action from the kisser. Romantically, a good ice-breaking strategy…and who knows? They may come back for more!

Eskimo Kiss
The act known as Eskimo kissing in modern western culture is loosely based on a traditional Inuit greeting called “kunik”. According to Wikipedia, a kunik is a form of expressing affection, usually between family members and loved ones, that involves pressing the nose and upper lip against the skin (commonly the cheeks or forehead) and breathing in, causing the loved one's skin or hair to be suctioned against the nose and upper lip.

A common misconception is that the practice arose so that Inuit could kiss without their mouths freezing together. In fact, it is a non-erotic form of greeting that serves as an intimate way of greeting one another for people who, when they meet, often have little except their nose and eyes exposed. In its western form it consists of two people rubbing noses together, and on a cold winter’s night, could be very romantic!

Traditionally Chinese, Cantonese, and Vietnamese, the kowtow is known as a deep act of respect, shown by kneeling and bowing so low as to have your head touching the ground.

Continue reading on Top 10 greetings and gestures - New York NY |


Most animals (including people) use "body language" as well as sound and smell in order to communicate with one another. Here are some of the ways animals express themselves. Many animals communicate by smell: they release pheromones (airborne chemicals) to send messages to others. Pheromones play an important part in reproduction and other social behavior. They are used by many animals, including insects, wolves, deer, and even humans! Communication is so important that even the amoeba (an organism made up of a single cell) communicates with other amoebas by chemical discharge. By doing this, one amoeba attracts others to it for reproduction. Bees dance when they have found nectar. The scout bee will dance in the hive, and the dance directs other bees to the location of the nectar. Chimpanzees greet each other by touching hands. Malefiddler crabs wave their giant claw to attract female fiddler crabs. White-tailed deer show alarm by flicking up their tails. Dogs stretch their front legs out in front of them and lower their bodies when they want to play. Elephants show affection by entwining their trunks. Giraffes press their necks together when they are attracted to each other. Gorillas stick out their tongues to show anger.Kangaroos thump their hind legs to warn others of danger. Prairie dogs bare their teeth and press their mouths together to discover if they are friends or foes.Whales breach (leap out of the water) repeatedly to send messages to other whales. Swans entwine their long necks both to fight and to court. Horses rub noses as a sign of affection. These forms of communication are affected and influenced by the genetic make up of a species, their own environment, and their experiences. Communication abilities in most animals can be further developed depending upon their environment. For example, animals living in a circus have a larger set of communication skills than those living in most homes, because they are exposed to an environment that offers new opportunities for both learning and training on a continual basis.

STAGE ONE: verbal and nonvnverbal forms of greetings around the world

bowing in Japan

THE ORIGINS OF JAPANESE BOW - /source: Given's online dictionary of nonverbal communication/
Culture. 1. In Japan, the forwardness of one's bow reflects status; e.g., those higher in status bow less deeply to those lower in status. It is considered bad form for westerners to bow too deeply to lower status Japanese. 2. Among the Mossi of Burkina Faso, the most servile gesture is the poussi-poussi. "To poussi-poussi, Collett [1983] explains, one takes off shoes and headgear (which add height), sits with the legs 'tucked to one side,' lowers the body, and beats on the ground. (Historically, men also threw dust on their heads.)" (Givens 1986:155 ). 3. "In the Muslim world, the body kowtow--in which one kneels down and touches the ground with the forehead--is used in prayer to show humility before the deity (Morris 1994:11).

Humility. The English word humble means being "close to the ground." It comes via Old French's umble from Latin's humilis, "low, lowly." The word derives from Latin's humus, "earth," and is related to the English word human. In its original sense, being human meant being an "earthly being," as opposed to being an ethereal, immortal god in the sky (Ayto 1990). The Indo-European root for man is *dhghom, for on the ground is *dhghm, and for earth is *dhghom-o (Susan N. Skomal, personal communication).
Cultural differences distinguish societies from one another. In today's world of globalisation, the world is certainly becoming smaller and people of various cultures are able to communicate freely. Nowadays there are different ways to express thoughts, ideas which can span across cultures through different forms of media like the television, the newspapers and the Internet. There are many who would love to disregard the existence of cultural differences due to the advancement in science and technology.

All cultures are known to have a set of beliefs that defines the code of conduct and values for that particular culture. People living together in a society share the same culture.

Another important contributor to the cultural difference is the history of a particular region or country. The events of the past certainly shape the moods and opinions of people living in that specific country. When a large group of people observe a set of traditions, social norms and values, it gives rise to culture. One should also spare a thought to the immense important mythology has, in shaping a set of myths which gave rise to cultural differences.

Differences in Cultures

Increasingly, managers must deal with multiple ethnic groups with very different cultures. Thanks to globalization, you are likely to work with Japanese, French, Chinese, German and all sorts of other nationalities. It is important to recognize that people from different cultures have are different in a variety of ways, including

  • different ways of looking at things
  • different ways of dressing
  • different ways of expressing personality/goodness
In an ideal world ...
  • the policemen would be English
  • the car mechanics would be German
  • the cooks would be French
  • the innkeepers would be Swiss,
  • and the lovers would be Italian
In a living hell ...
  • the policemen would be German
  • the car mechanics would be French
  • the cooks would be English
  • the innkeepers would be Italian
  • and the lovers would be Swiss

These differences can cause problems interpreting what the other person is doing. Some simple examples:

  • In the US, a firm, short handshake indicates self-confidence and (heterosexual) masculinity. A limp handshake by a man can be interpreted (usually wrongly) as a sign of homosexuality or wimpiness. But in most parts of Africa, a limp handshake is the correct way to do it. Furthermore, it is common in Africa for the handshake to last several minutes, while in the US a handshake that is even a few seconds too long is interpreted as familiarity, warmth and possibly sexual attraction.
  • In Britain, men do not look at women on the streets. The French do. Recently, a French public figure mentioned in a speech that the Brits are all gay -- the evidence was their lack of overt interest in women.


Some dimensions along which cultures vary:

High Context vs Low Context

A low context culture is one in which things are fully (though concisely) spelled out. Things are made explicit, and there is considerable dependence on what is actually said or written. A high context culture is one in which the communicators assume a great deal of commonality of knowledge and views, so that less is spelled out explicitly and much more is implicit or communicated in indirect ways. In a low context culture, more responsibility is placed on the listener to keep up their knowledge base and remain plugged into informal networks.

Low context cultures include Anglos, Germanics and Scandinavians. High context cultures include Japanese, Arabs and French.


  • Interactions between high and low context peoples can be problematic.
    • Japanese can find Westerners to be offensively blunt. Westerners can find Japanese to be secretive, devious and bafflingly unforthcoming with information
    • French can feel that Germans insult their intelligence by explaining the obvious, while Germans can feel that French managers provide no direction
  • Low context cultures are vulnerable to communication breakdowns when they assume more shared understanding than there really is. This is especially true in an age of diversity. Low context cultures are not known for their ability to tolerate or understand diversity, and tend to be more insular.

Monochronic vs Polychronic

Monochronic cultures like to do just one thing at a time. They value a certain orderliness and sense of there being an appropriate time and place for everything. They do not value interruptions. Polychronic cultures like to do multiple things at the same time. A manager's office in a polychronic culture typically has an open door, a ringing phone and a meeting all going on at the same time.

Polychronic cultures include the French and the Americans. The Germans tend to be monochronic.


  • Interactions between types can be problematic. German businessman cannot understand why the person he is meeting is so interruptible by phone calls and people stopping by. Is it meant to insult him? When do they get down to business?
  • Similarly, the American employee of a German company is disturbed by all the closed doors -- it seems cold and unfriendly.

Future vs Present vs Past Orientation

Past-oriented societies are concerned with traditional values and ways of doing things. They tend to be conservative in management and slow to change those things that are tied to the past. Past-oriented societies include China, Britain, Japan and most spanish-speaking Latin American countries.

Present-oriented societies include the rest of the spanish-speaking Latin American countries. They see the past as passed and the future as uncertain. They prefer short-term benefits.

Future-oriented societies have a great deal of optimism about the future. They think they understand it and can shape it through their actions. They view management as a matter of planning, doing and controlling (as opposed to going with the flow, letting things happen). The United States and, increasingly, Brazil, are examples of future-oriented societies.

Quantity of Time

In some cultures, time is seen as being a limited resource which is constantly being used up. It's like having a bathtub full of water which can never be replaced, and which is running down the drain. You have to use it as it runs down the drain or it's wasted. In other cultures, time is more plentiful, if not infinite. In old agricultural societies, time was often seen as circular, renewing itself each year.


  • In societies where time is limited, punctuality becomes a virtue. It is insulting to waste someone's time, and the ability to do that and get away with it is an indication of superiority/status. Time is money. In cultures where time is plentiful, like India or Latin American, there is no problem with making people wait all day, and then tell them to come back the next day.
  • Time-plentiful cultures tend to rely on trust to do business. Time-limited cultures don't have time to develop trust and so create other mechanisms to replace trust (such as strong rule-by-law).

Power Distance

The extent to which people accept differences in power and allow this to shape many aspects of life. Is the boss always right because he is the boss, or only when he gets it right?


  • In high power distance countries (most agrarian countries), bypassing a superior is unsubordination. In low power distance countries (US, northern europeans, Israel), bypassing is not usually a big deal.
  • In the US, superiors and subordinates often interact socially as equals. An outsider watching a party of professors and graduate students typically cannot tell them apart.

Individualism vs Collectivism

In individualist cultures, individual uniqueness, self-determination is valued. A person is all the more admirable if they are a "self-made man" or "makes up their own mind" or show initiative or work well independently. Collectivist cultures expect people to identify with and work well in groups which protect them in exchange for loyalty and compliance.

Paradoxically, individualist cultures tend to believe that there are universal values that should be shared by all, while collectivist cultures tend to accept that different groups have different values.

Many of the asian cultures are collectivist, while anglo cultures tend to be individualist.


  • A market research firm conducted a survey of tourist agencies around the world. The questionnaires came back from most countries in less than a month. But the agencies in the asian countries took months to do it. After many telexes, it was finally done. The reason was that, for example, American tourist agencies assigned the work to one person, while the Filipinos delegated the work to the entire department, which took longer. The researchers also noticed that the telexes from the Philippines always came from a different person.


Problems Caused by Cultural Differences

  • You greet your Austrian client. This is the sixth time you have met over the last 4 months. He calls you Herr Smith. You think of him as a standoffish sort of guy who doesn't want to get really friendly. That might be true in America, where calling someone Mr. Smith after the 6th meeting would probably mean something -- it is marked usage of language -- like "we're not hitting it off". But in Austria, it is normal.
  • A Canadian conducting business in Kuwait is surprised when his meeting with a high-ranking official is not held in a closed office and is constantly interrupted. He starts wondering if the official is as important as he had been led to believe, and he starts to doubt how seriously his business is being taken
  • A British boss asked a new, young American employee if he would like to have an early lunch at 11 am each day. The employee said 'Yeah, that would be great!' The boss immediately said "With that kind of attitude, you may as well forget about lunch!" The employee and the boss were both baffled by what went wrong. [In England, saying "yeah" in that context is seen as rude and disrespectful.]
  • A Japanese businessman wants to tell his Norwegian client that he is uninterested in a particular sale. So he says "That will be very difficult." The Norwegian eagerly asks how he can help. The Japanese is mystified. To him, saying that something is difficult is a polite way of saying "No way in hell!". Dave Barry tells the story of being on a trip to Japan and working with a Japanese airline clerk on taking a flight from one city to another. On being asked about it, the clerk said "Perhaps you would prefer to take the train." So he said "NO, I want to fly." So she said "There are many other ways to go." He said "yes, but I think it would be best to fly." She said "It would very difficult". Eventually, it came out that there were no flights between those cities.  


Three basic kinds of problems: interpreting others comments and actions, predicting behavior, and conflicting behavior.


Take the Cultural Test

How aware are you of cultural differences in body language? Try this exercise — hold up your main hand to display the number five - do it now. Now change it to the number two. If you're Anglo-Saxon, there's a 96% chance you'll be holding up your middle and index fingers. If you're European, there's a 94% chance you'll be holding up your thumb and index finger. Europeans start counting with the number one on the thumb, two on the index finger, three on the middle finger, and so on. Anglo-Saxons count number one on the index finger, two on the middle finger and finish with five on the thumb.

Now look at the following hand signals and see how many different meanings you can assign to each one. For each correct answer, score one point and deduct one point for an incorrect answer. The answers are listed at the bottom of the page.

Hand Signs For Letters

For each correct answer you got, allocate yourself one point.


Europe and North America: OK
Mediterranean region, Russia, Brazil, Turkey: An orifice signal; sexual insult; gay man
Tunisia, France, Belgium: Zero; worthless
Japan: Money; coins


Western countries: One; Excuse me!; As God is my witness; No! (to children)


Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Malta: Up yours!
USA: Two
Germany: Victory
France: Peace
Ancient Rome: Julius Caesar ordering five beers


Europe: Three
Catholic countries: A blessing


Europe: Two
Britain, Australia, New Zealand: One
USA: Waiter!
Japan: An insult


Western countries: Four
Japan: An insult


Western countries: Number 5
Everywhere: Stop!
Greece and Turkey: Go to hell!


Mediterranean: Small penis
Bali: Bad
Japan: Woman
South America: Thin
France: You can't fool me!


Mediterranean: Your wife is being unfaithful
Malta and Italy: Protection against the Evil Eye (when pointed)
South America: Protection against bad luck (when rotated)
USA: Texas University Logo, Texas Longhorn Football Team


Greece: Go to Hell!
The West: Two


Ancient Rome: Up yours!
USA: Sit on this! Screw you!


Europe: One
Australia: Sit on this! (upward jerk)
Widespread: Hitchhike; Good; OK
Greece: Up yours! (thrust forward)
Japan: Man; five


Hawaii: 'Hang loose'
Holland: Do you want a drink?


USA: I love you


The West: Ten; I surrender
Greece: Up Yours -- twice!
Widespread: I'm telling the truth

What did you score?

Over 30 points: You are a well-travelled, well-rounded, broad-thinking person who gets on well with everyone regardless of where they are from. People love you.

15-30 points: You have a basic awareness that others behave differently to you and, with dedicated practice, you can improve the understanding you currently have.15 points or less: You think everyone thinks like you do. You should never be issued a passport or even be allowed out of the house. You have little concept that the rest of the world is different to you and you think that it's always the same time and season all over the world. You are probably an American.



WHEN/WHY/HOW DID IT ALL BEGIN?: the history of various forms of greeting people as we practise them today
Handshake. /source: Givens' online nonverbal dictionary/
Grasping another's hand with a power grip is a widespread means of expressing congratulations, contractual agreement, farewell, and greeting. The handshake is European in origin (Morris 1994), although many cultures touch hands and other body parts with the hand(s) to greet family members and fellow tribesmen. These socio-emotional touch cues developed from tactile signs originally used in mammalian grooming and childcare. 1. "We do know that the full Hand Shake occurred as early as the 16th century because in Shakespeare's As You Like It there is the phrase: 'they shook hands and swore brothers'" (Morris 1994:125). 2. In the politician's handshake, two hands reach out to clasp and surround another's hand, like a glove, to intensify the emotions aroused by physical closeness and "friendship." According to Morris (1994:126), the glove handshake is widespread in "diplomatic, political and business circles." 3. A study reported in the July 2000 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that women ". . . who introduce themselves with an assertive gesture by way of a firm handshake were perceived as being intellectual and open to new experiences" (Lipsitz 2000:32).

GREETINGS - DO'S AND DON'TS of verbal/nonverbal commincation in speaking and in writing

Greetings in the Classroom

It is polite to greet a new student that joins your class. Introductions immediately follow this type of greeting.


  • Say hello and exchange names.
  • Exchange nationalities.
  • Engage in one line of small talk (weather, surroundings, news).
Useful Phrases
  • I'm from...(city or country)
  • I hear it's beautiful/hot/expensive there.
  • How do you like it here?
  • How long have you been here?
WHAT ACCOMPANIES VERBAL/NONVERBAL FORMS OF GREETINGS in as specific culture? /the issues of kissing, touching, proxemics ../



Handshake variables include:

  • Strength (weak - strong)
  • Temperature (cold - hot)
  • Moisture (damp - dry)
  • Fullness of grip (full - partial)
  • Duration (brief - long)
  • Speed (slow - fast)
  • Complexity (shake - dance)
  • Texture (rough - smooth)
  • Eye contact (prolonged - intermittent - none)


A firm grip shows confidence, whilst a limp grip may indicate timidity, particularly in men (women may be expected to be more gentile). A firm grip by men also indicates they are more sensation-seeking.

Palm down indicates dominance and a feeling of superiority ('I am on top'). Palm sideways indicate equality. Palm up indicates submission.

A long handshake can indicate pleasure and can signal dominance, particularly if one person tries to pull away and the dominant person does not let them.

Dominance may also be shown by using the other hand to grip the person, such as at the wrist, elbow, arm or shoulder. This may also be done by gripping the shaken hand with both of your hands. This may also indicate affection or pleasure (which allows for an ambiguous signal).

A variant of the dominant handshake which is used by politicians who are being photographed and hence shake hands side-by-side is to stand on the left hand side of the other person. This means your hand will be on the outside and it will look like you are the dominant party to those viewing the photograph.

Responses to the dominant handshake can include counter-touching (use your other hand to hold their hand, wrist, elbow, arm or shoulder), hugging (pull them in), thrusting (push them away by pushing your hand towards them) and stepping the side.

Hand-touching is also used, for example the 'high five', where open palms are touched high in the air, or where closed fists are tapped. Where the other person is not gripped, the origins may be in potentially aggressive situations where holding of another could be construed as a threatening act.



Salute variables include:

  • Shape of hand (straight - curved)
  • Speed (fast - slower)
  • Head-touch (forehead - none)
  • Shape (up-down - curved)


The salute is a formal greeting where the open hand is brought up to the forehead. It is often used in the military in a strictly prescribed manner and situation.

There are several possible origins of this, including:

  • Shading the eyes from the brilliance of a superior person.
  • An abbreviation of raising one's hat or tugging the forelock (in the absence of a hat).
  • Raising helmet visor to show the face (to allow recognition and dispel fears of enmity).
  • Raising the hand to show it does not contain a weapon.



Bowing variables include:

  • Lowering (slight - very low)
  • Pivot (head - waist)
  • Duration (short - long)
  • Gender style (bow - curtsey)


Bowing is another formal greeting and can be as extreme as a full 90 degree bend from the waist to even complete prostration on the floor. This averts the eyes ('I dare not look at your majesty') and exposes the head ('You can kill me if you wish').

Bowing amongst peers is commonly used in a severely contracted form as a slight nod of the head. Even in the shortened form, the lower and longer the bow, the greater the respect that is demonstrated.

If eye contact is maintained during a bow, it can signify either mistrust or liking. Looking down as you bow indicates submission, although this also can just be a formal action.

The female variant on the bow is the curtsey, which again can be a full sinking to the floor or a slight bob. Similarly to bowing, this puts the person lower than the other person and into a position of greater vulnerability.

Bowing is different in different cultures. In countries such as Japan it is clearly defined and an important part of greetings. In other countries it is less important or maybe seen as obsequious.



Variables for waving include:

  • Open palm (flat - curved)
  • Movement angle (big - small)
  • Raised (above head - held low)
  • Direction (sideways rotation - up-down)


Waving can be done from a distance. This allows for greeting when you first spot another person. It also allows for

Waves gain attention and a big, overhead wave can attract a person from some distance. This also makes others look at you and is not likely from a timid person.

A stationary palm, held up and facing out is far less obvious and may be flashed for a short period, particularly if the other person is looking at you (all you need is that they see the greeting).

Greeting children is often done with a small up-and-down movement of fingers, holding the rest of the palm still. Between adults, this can be a timid or safe signal from a child position ('I won't harm you - please don't harm me.').



Hugging variables include:

  • Hand placement (shoulder, etc.)
  • Arms touch (none - wrap)
  • Body position (front - side - behind)
  • Pressure (light - strong)
  • Body touching (none - full)
  • Gender (man/woman - man/woman)


Hugging is a closer and more affectionate form of greeting than shaking hands and perhaps reflects a desire for bonding.

Hugging is generally more common between friends, although its usage does vary across cultures and is common in some places. Gender rules may also apply, for example hugging in America is far more common between women than between men. Harassment laws may also limit touching of the other person in what may be interpreted as an intimate way.

Full-body hugs create contact with breasts and between genitalia and hence may be sexually suggestive or stimulating. This tends to limit their use to romantic greetings, although they are still used in some cultures, including between men.

Light shoulder-only hugs are more common as social greetings, in which people lean forward in order not to break rules about touching breasts or genitalia.

Side-on, one-handed hugs are safer and can be a friendly touch. Even so, this still can be a deliberate romantic advance or act of domination (even if not, it may be perceived as such).

Longer, fuller hugs often signal greater affection and may happen between people who have not seen one another for some time.

Hugging someone from behind can be surprising and even threatening, and is usually only done by friends who trust one another implicitly.



Contact during kissing can be:

  • Lip/cheek to lip/cheek
  • Duration (peck - smooch)
  • Tongue (involved - not)
  • Gender (man/woman to man/woman)
  • Body involvement (none - full)


In some cultures, kissing is a part of social greeting. This may or may not include man-man and man-woman (which can lead to significant cross-cultural embarrassment).

The type of kiss is governed strongly by the relationship. Social greetings are relatively short, and may involve double or triple kissing, alternating either side of the face.

General friendship kissing may be longer and with more body contact, though mostly using arms to include a hug (and steady the body).

The most intense kiss is the romantic kiss which may well include full-length body touching, caressing with hands and lip-to-lip kisses that may even include interplay of tongues.

Facial signals

The face is used a great deal in sending greeting signals, and accompanies other greeting activity for example saying:

  • Smiling: I am pleased to see you.
  • Frowning: I am angry with you.
  • Raised eyebrows: I am surprised to see you.
  • Eyebrows together: I do not know your name.
  • Looking down: I am inferior to you.
  • Expressionless: I do not care about you.

Eye contact is particularly important in greeting and is usually held for a socially prescribed period. Prolonged eye contact can indicate both affection and dominance. Little or no eye contact can indicate timidity ('I dare not look at you'), dislike ('I do not want to see you') or dominance ('You are unimportant and below my interest.'). As with the handshake, a dominant signal may be sent under cover of the 'friendly' greeting.


The words used in greetings can change significantly with the culture and context.


Informal greetings often use non-words and short forms like 'Hi', 'Watcha', 'Yay' and so on. Formal meetings use more formal language, such as 'Hello', 'Greetings', 'Good day' and so on. In some cultures, greeting is very formal and a fixed set of words are required in specific situations, 'Greeting, O holy one, father of us all and master of the world'.

Other greetings

There are many other ways in which people greet and further subtleties around the actions above, including:

  • Touching or raising a hat
  • Pressing or rubbing noses
  • Touching or pressing bodies together in certain places and ways
  • Moving the body through a defined locus
  • Giving of gifts
  • Touching palms or fists

Greetings may also be extended to parting, for which there are many similar rituals, including handshakes, bows and words of praise.



PROXEMICS /source: Givens: Online nonverbal dictionary
Spatial signs, signals and cues. According to its founder, Edward T. Hall, proxemics is the study of humankind's "perception and use of space" (Hall 1968:83).

Usage: Like facial expressions, gestures, and postures, space "speaks." The prime directive of proxemic space is that we may not come and go everywhere as we please. There are cultural rules and biological boundaries--explicit as well as implicit and subtle limits to observe--everywhere.

Body space I. Scientific research on how we communicate in private and public spaces began with studies of animal behavior (ethology) and territoriality in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1959, the anthropologist Edward Hall popularized spatial research on human beings--calling it proxemics--in his classic book, The Silent Language.

Body space II. Hall identified four bodily distances--intimate (0 to 18 inches), personal-casual (1.5 to 4 feet), social-consultive (4 to 10 feet), and public (10 feet and beyond)--as key points in human spacing behavior. Hall noted, too, that different cultures set distinctive norms for closeness in, e.g., speaking, business, and courting, and that standing too close or too far away can lead to misunderstandings and even to culture shock.

Body space III. Summarizing diverse studies, Vrugt and Kerkstra (1984:5) concluded that, "In interaction between strangers the interpersonal distance between women is smaller than between men and women."

Crowded space I. "A persistent and popular view holds that high population density inevitably leads to violence. This myth, which is based on rat research, applies neither to us nor to other primates" (Waal et al. 2000:77).

Crowded space II. "This pathological togetherness [resulting from a rat population explosion which led to killing, sexual assaults, and cannibalism], as Calhoun [1962] described it, as well as the attendant chaos and behavioral deviancy, led him to coin the phrase 'behavioral sink'" (Waal et al. 2000:77).

Crowded space III. "In some of the short-term crowding experiments conducted by others and ourselves, monkeys were literally packed together, without much room to avoid body contact, in a cramped space for periods of up to a few hours. No dramatic aggression increases were measured. In fact, in my last conversation with the late John Calhoun, he mentioned having created layers of rats on top of each other and having been surprised at how passively they reacted" (Waal 2000:10).

Culture. In Japan, one may hand prow (i.e., face the palm-edge of one hand vertically forward in front of the nose), and bow the head slightly, to aplogize for crossing between two people, or intruding into another's space to move through a crowded room. "The hand acts like the prow of a ship cutting through water" (Morris 1994:115).

Elevator space. 1. "In choosing to approach someone in order to push the [button on the control] panel, men and women reacted to different signals (Hughes and Goldman 1978); men preferred to approach people who stood with eyes averted to people who looked at them and smiled; women, however, preferred to approach someone who looked and smiled" (Vrugt and Kerkstra 1984:9). 2. "Chimpanzees take this withdrawal tactic one step further: they are actually less aggressive when briefly crowded. Again, this reflects greater [primate] emotional restraint. Their reaction is reminiscent of people on an elevator, who reduce frictions by minimizing large body movements, eye contact and loud vocalizations" (Waal et al. 2000:81).

Escalator space. "Men reacted more to the person standing [immediately, i.e., just one step behind, with the hands reaching forward on the rail so as to be visible to the person ahead] behind them than did women" (Vrugt and Kerkstra 1984:9). "Women seem to prefer to act as if they do not notice anything, so that unwanted contact can be avoided. Men make it clear in their reactions that they do not appreciate such a rapprochement" (Vrugt and Kerkstra 1984:10).

Library space. Regardless of an "invader's" sex, men already seated at an otherwise unoccupied table view opposites most negatively, while already seated women view adjacents most negatively (Fisher and Byrne 1975).

Parking space. "A study of more than 400 drivers at an Atlanta-area mall parking lot found that motorists defend their spots instinctively" (AP, May 13, 1997; from research published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, May 1997). "It's not your paranoid imagination after all: People exiting parking spaces really do leave more slowly when you're waiting for the spot . . . . It's called territorial behavior . . ." (AP, May 13, 1997).

Office space I. Office workers spend the day in an average 260 square-foot (down from 1986's 275 square-foot), usually rectangular space. Corporate downsizing and belt-tightening mean that many staffers now find themselves working in even smaller, modular, 80-square-foot cubicles. (N.B.: For some prehistoric context, consider that our hunter-gatherer ancestors spent their workdays on an estimated 440-square-mile expanse of open savannah.) Cubicles replaced the more exposed, "pool" desks which had earlier lined the floors of cavernous group-occupied workrooms. Though maligned in Dilbert cartoons, cubicles at least provide more privacy than the 1950s open workrooms, and offer needed respite from visual monitoring (which is known to be stressful to human primates).

Office space II. "German business personnel visiting the United States see our open doors in offices and businesses as indicative of an unusually relaxed and unbusinesslike attitude. Americans get the feeling that the German's [sic] closed doors conceal a secretive or conspiratorial operation" (Vargas 1986:98).

Restaurant space. Corner and wall tables are occupied first (Eibl-Eibesfeldt 1970).

Home space I. Americans spend an estimated 70 years indoors, mostly in the secure habitat of an average-sized, 2,000-square-foot residences called a home (from the Indo-European root, tkei-, "settle" or "site"). (N.B.: Because there is no counterpart in primate evolution for a life lived entirely indoors, we bring the outdoors in. Thus, better homes and gardens include obvious replicas, as well as subtle reminders, of the original savanna-grassland territory, including its warmth, lighting, colors, vistas, textures, and plants.)

Home space II. Upon re-entering our home (after several hours of absence), we feel a peculiar need to wander about the space to "check" for intruders. In mammals, this behavior is known as reconnaissance: ". . . in which the animal moves round its range in a fully alerted manner so that all its sense organs are used as much as possible, resulting in maximal exposure to stimuli from the environment. It thus 'refreshes its memory' and keeps a check on everything in its area" [this is "a regular activity in an already familiar environment," which does "not require the stimulus of a strange object"] (Ewer 1968:66).

Neighborhood space. The prime directive of neighborhood space is, "Stay in your own yard." That we are terribly territorial is reflected in fences by the barriers they define. According to the American Fencing Association, 38,880 miles of chain link, 31,680 miles of wooden, and 1,440 miles of ornamental fencing are bought annually in the U.S. (N.B.: Each year Americans buy enough residential fencing to encircle the earth nearly three times.)

City space I. Biologists call the space in which primates live their home range. The home range of human hunter-gatherers (e.g., of the Kalahari Bushmen in southern Africa) spreads outward ca. 15-to-20 miles in all directions from a central home base. The home range of today's city dwelling humans includes a home base (an apartment or a house) as well, along with favored foraging territories (e.g., a shopping mall and supermarket), a juvenile nursery (i.e., a school), a sporting area (e.g., a golf course), a work space (an office building, e.g.)--and from two-to-five nocturnal drinking-and-dining spots. We spend most of our lives a. occupying these favorite spaces, and b. orbiting among them on habitually traveled pathways, sidewalks, and roads.

City space II. "Fixing Broken Windows, a book by [Rutgers criminologist George] Kelling and co-author Catherine Coles, became a bible for New York City's 'zero-tolerance' policy toward abandoned cars, abandoned buildings and even graffiti. [new paragraph] "Kelling and Coles argue that even small signs of crime and decay in a neighborhood, such as broken windows, encourage crime by signaling that such behavior is tolerated" (Bayles 2000: 3A).

National space. We live in one of ca. 160 sovereign nations which together claim 54% of earth's surface, including almost all of its land and much of its oceans, waterways, and airspace. Over ninety percent of all nations, including the U.S., have unresolved border disputes (see

Outer space. No national sovereignty rules in outer space. Those who venture there go as envoys of the entire human race. Their quest, therefore, must be for all mankind, and what they find should belong to all mankind. --Lyndon Baines Johnson


Intercultural communication


Intercultural communication is defined as situated communication between individuals or groups of different linguistic and cultural origins. This is derived from the following fundamental definitions: communication is the active relationship established between people through language, and intercultural means that this communicative relationship is between people of different cultures, where culture is the structured manifestation of human behaviour in social life within specific national and local contexts, e.g. political, linguistic, economic, institutional, and professional. Intercultural communication is identified as both a concept and a competence. Intercultural competence is the active possession by individuals of qualities which contribute to effective intercultural communication and can be defined in terms of three primary attributes: knowledge, skills and attitudes. In the context of this document, the acquisition of skills and human attributes likely to enhance intercultural communication is viewed exclusively as a component of language programmes, i.e. as an accompaniment to the practical acquisition of language itself.



greeting smiling

images (1).jpg


46z5rg4.gifsmilic koji grli - animacija.gif
Down: a Chinese symbol for HELLO
How to say "hello" in:
Portuguese: Bom Dia (Good Morning), Boa tarde (Good afternoon), Boa noite (Good evening)
Setswana: Dumela mma/rra (to woman/man)
English: Hello

Burkina Faso
French: Bonjour
Dioula: in-i-che

French: Bonjour
English: Hello (in the west of Cameroon)

Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
French: Bonjour
Dioula: in-i-che

Arabic: salaam aleikum
English: Hello

Amharic: teanastellen
English: Hello

French: Bonjour

Twi: ete-sen
Ga: meeng-gah-bou (spoken in the capital Accra)
Hausa: sannu (spoken in northern Ghana)
English: Hello

Swahili: Salama/Jambo
English: Hello

South Sotho: Lumela
English: Hello

Arabic: salaam aleikum

Malagasy: Salama
French: Bonjour

Chichewa: Moni
English: Hello

French: Bonjour
Bambara: i-ni-cheh
Tamashek: met-al-ee-khah(Tuareg language)

Arabic: salaam aleikum
Hassaniya: sa-la-mah ah-lay-kum

Arabic: salaam aleikum
French: Bonjour

Portuguese: Bom Dia (Good Morning), Boa tarde (Good afternoon), Boa noite (Good evening)

Afrikaans: Hallo
Damara/Nama: !gai//oas (spoken in the south and southeast)
Herero/Himba: Tjike (spoken in the north central and northwest)
English: Hello

Hausa: sannu
Igbo: ee-bow-lah-chee(southeastern Nigeria)
Yoruba: bah-oh
English: Hello
French: Bonjour

French: Bonjour

French: Bonjour
Fulfulde: no ngoolu daa
Wolof: na nga def

Sierra Leone
Krio: How de body?

South Africa
Zulu: Sawubona
Xhosa: Molo
Afrikaans: Hallo
English: Hello

Arabic: salaam aleikum

Swati: Sawubona
English: Hello

Swahili: Salama/Jambo
English: Hello

French: Bonjour

French: Bonjour
Arabic: salaam aleikum

Swahili: Salama/Jambo
English: Hello

English: Hello
Bemba: Muli shani

English: Hello
Shona: Mhoroi
Ndebele: Sawubona

Source: Lonely Planet Guide Books
- Hello/Hi - Bog/Bok
- Good morning: Dobro jutro
- Bye/Goodbye: Papa/Dovidjenja
- Good evening: Dobro vecer


tags iconPodcast


Listen now:
Listen later:
sea_organ.mp3 423.9 kB
JPEG imagelatin.jpg 51.8 kB




how to greet people in HIndi

Greetings-2 Vocab & Phrases - English Meeting ESL Lesson

Greetings 1 Vocab & Phrases - English Meeting ESL Lesson

Meeting People & Exchanging Greetings - Lets Talk English speaking training institute

Greetings in China


Greeting gesture
 In China it is rude to call someone by their first name unless you've known them since childhood. In work-related situations people address each other by their title; in social situations "Mr.," Mrs.," and "Miss" are used; at home people often refer to each other by nicknames or terms of kinship. Remember, in China, the family name is first.

 Terms of kinship are often used for close non-relatives. A younger man often calls a man who is five years older than him "big brother" and someone who is considerably older "uncle." Chinese often address their friends as juniors and seniors even if they are just a few months younger or older. When a Chinese person asks someone their age they often do this so they know how to address the person.

 Chinese sometimes don't smile or exchange greeting with strangers. Smiling or being friendly to someone you don't know well is sometimes considered rude and too familiar.

 When saying goodby it is considered appropriate to give a quick bow or nod to everyone present and go. Beijingers often say goodbye to one another by saying Ju-i, which is translated both as "Take it slow" and "as one desires." The Chinese are not big on drawn out goodbyes. After finishing a meal, they often get up, thank each other, say goodbye and leave abruptly. When the Chinese say farewell after a visit or journey together, they simply go; there is "no lingering, no swapping of addresses, no reminiscences, nothing sentimental."


Bowing, Touching, Clapping and Shaking Hands in China


Thank you 
 Unlike Japanese, Chinese do not necessarily bow to one another as a greeting, a parting gesture or an alternative to waving or saying "Hi." But they sometimes do. Bowing is generally reserved as a sign of respect for elders and ancestors, especially on on special holidays. When Chinese bow they make a fist with their right hand and hold it in the palm of the left at stomach level and bow slightly to deeply depending on how much respect they want to convey.

 In imperial times, visitors to the emperor were expected to drop to the floor and knock their foreheads on the floor nine times to show respect. Such kowtowing gestures are still displayed when Chinese worship at temples. Kowtowing is a powerful gesture reserved mainly for honoring the dead or offering deep respect at a temple. In the Cultural Revolution as a tool of humiliation against those who committed political crimes.”

 The Chinese have traditionally not been big hand shakers but the custom is now widely practiced among men, especially when greeting Westerners and other foreigners. Sometimes Chinese shake for too long for Western tastes and have a limp rather than firm grip. A limp handshake is regarded as a gesture of humility and respect. When a Western man meets a Chinese person, especially a woman, he should wait for the other person to offers his or her hand first, before offering to shake hands.

 With Chinese, avoid, hugs, backslapping or touching other than a handshake. Sometimes when entering a school, a meeting or a banquet, Chinese clap as a greeting. It is customary to clap in return. A soft clap, with you hands horizontal to the floor is best. Introductions are usually made with a third party. It is considered unusual for a person to walk up to a stranger and introduce himself.


Respect for Older People in China


 Many codes of behavior revolve around young people showing respect to older people. Younger people are expected to defer to older people, let them speak first, sit down after them and not contradict them. Sometime when an older person enters a room, everyone stands. People are often introduced from oldest to youngest. Sometimes people go out their way to open doors for older people and not cross their legs in front of them.

 When offering a book or paper to someone older than you, you should show respect by using two hands to present the object. On a crowded subway or bus, you should give up your seat to an elderly person.

 Sometimes a comment based on age meant to be complimentary can turn out to be an insult. The New York Times described a businessmen who was meeting with some high-ranking government officials and told one them he was “probably too young to remember.” The comment was intended to be a compliment:—that the official looked young for his age—but it was taken as insult—that the officials was not old enough to be treated with respect.


Chinese and Foreigners


 Chinese often stare at foreigners. Sometimes children call out various things at them, particularly "Hello," shouted in an annoying way, and laowai, the most polite word for "foreigner." Chinese sometimes look over the shoulders of foreign tourist to see what they are reading. Sometimes they will even yank a book or a newspaper out of the tourist’s hand to get a closer look.

 One Chinese tourist guide gave Chinese tourists the following advise when meeting foreigners: "Do not follow, encircle or stare at them when you meet. Refrain from pointing at their clothing in front of their faces or making frivolous remarks...if foreign guests take the initiative to make contact be courteous and poised. Do not be flustered and insult them by walking off immediately."

 The same guide advised: "Refrain from asking foreign guests about age, salary, income, clothing costs and similar private matters...Do not accept gifts at will from foreign guests. When parting you should peel off your gloves and then proffer you hand. If you are parting from a female foreign guest and she does not proffer her hand first, it is also adequate to nod you head as a farewell greeting."


Gestures in China


gesture for 
a promise
 Chinese don’t gesture very much and regard a lot of hand movement as excessive. Winking and whistling are considered rude. Eye contact tends to be indirect.

 Both the thumbs up sign and tugging on the earlobe are signs of excellence. An outward pointing and raised pinky means you are nothing, poor quality or not very good at something.

 Some Chinese point with their middle finger without realizing that it has a vulgar meaning in the West. Conversely, a thumb placed between the middle and index fingers (the "nose stealing" gesture) is on obscene gesture in some parts of China.

 Don't point or use your finger to beckon someone (this gesture is used for dogs). To get someone's attention and tell them to “come here” place your palm down and move your fingers towards you. This gesture is used with children, taxis or waiters but is considered very rude when directed at an older person. The most polite way to attract someone's attention is to make eye contact and bow slightly.

 Holding your fist up is an obscene gesture in Hong Kong and some parts of southern China. Also in southern China, people say thank you by tapping two fingers on the table. Many people in the north, however, are not familiar with this gesture.


Displays of Affection in China


 Public displays of affection between members of the opposite sex—such as kissing, hugging and holding hands—are considered rude, while holding hands and hugging among members of the same sex are perfectly acceptable.

 Many university students and young people in their twenties have never kissed a member of the opposite sex and never even seen their parents kiss. Kissing is regarded as just one step shy of sex. French kissing is seen as some kind of exotic, forbidden experience. In secondary schools there are rules that state that students can not "touch, embrace or kiss."

 Because there is little privacy at home and young lovers often can't afford a hotel, couples that do display their affection go to smooch behind trees at public parks, or inside bomb shelters built during the Cultural Revolution "for the coming war." After the discos close young lovers go to special bars and restaurants were they can make out. In some places it is not unusual to see couples kissing and embracing in public places around breakfast time.

 "The Chinese." wrote Theroux, "were so desperate in their courtships that they went on tourists outing in order to hide and canoodle. Every holy mountain and famous pagoda had more than its share of motionless couples hugging and (sometimes) smooching...the Chinese do it standing up, usually behind a rock or a building, and they hug each other very tightly."

 See Sex and Kissing


Social Customs in China


gesture for 
 Chinese consider it rude to look someone directly in the eye, cross your arms or legs, or have your hands in your pocket when you are speaking to someone. Chinese usually focus their eyes on the lower neck of the person they are talking to, stand very close to them, and try to avoid staring.

 Chinese also don't like it when Westerners point at people; wear strong colognes or perfumes; put their feet or sit on desks; don't use titles or show proper respect to elders and superiors; boast and offer their opinions to readily; want immediate answers; and show a lack of patience.

 Chinese are very punctual. They are expected to arrive exactly on time for a party or a dinner engagement. Westerners are sometimes get caught unprepared with Chinese guests at their door or are chided for being late. It is also considered rude not to be patient and wait even when someone is really late. Showing up on time is regarded as an expression of respect to other people. In the rural areas these rules are less rigid as people are less tied to the clock and often more closely tied to immediate matters around them.

 Chinese generally don’t make compliments. When Westerners do the response is either denial, self deprecation or saying the opposite of the compliment is true. If you say a young girl is cute it is not unusual for Chinese to say she is ugly. If you say a meal is good, they will say something didn’t turn out right.


Talking and Conversation in China


 When meeting a foreigner Chinese usually ask the same questions and make the same comments: "Where are you from?" Where did you learn to use chopsticks?" What is favorite place in China?" It is not unusual for foreigners to get assaulted by 40 or 50 people all asking questions in English at once.

 People often ask foreigners a lot of personal questions, especially about their families and marriage. If you are over 30 and single and are asked if your married it is best to lie and say yes, otherwise people will feel sorry for you. Not having a wife and children is considered unfortunate and even bad luck. Sometimes Chinese can be uncomfortably frank. It is not unusual for Chinese to make a comment on the beauty of large Western noses.

 Westerners are advised to avoid conversations about politics and sex and refrain from making any comments that could be construed as a negative comment about China. Mainland China should be referred to as the "People's Republic of China." Don't confuse it with Taiwan or imply that Taiwan is not part of China. The Tibet issue is also quite sensitive. Don't make comments about Chinese customs: innocent observations can often be taken in a negative way. At teh same time expect uniformed comments about your home country and culture. Good, safe topics include food and family. For Chinese it is said, the purpose of conservation is to create a harmonious atmosphere.


Confusion Over Yes and No


gesture for 
 As is true with many Asian people, the Chinese will do anything they can to save face and make foreign visitors happy even if it means misleading them. Instead of telling you the unpleasant truth they would rather tell you what you want to hear. In the mid-1990s, a bank in Jinan informed their tellers to stop using "I don't know" and 90 other "uncivilized sentences."

 Chinese consider it rude to say "no" directly. They often say something like "maybe," "I am busy," or even "yes" when they really mean "no," or convey a no answer in way that foreigners don't understand. This behavior sometimes causes confusion with Westerners who like a yes-or-no answer, and who tend to believe there is a possibility of a "yes" unless they are told "no" straight out. Chinese consider it rude, kind of mean and too direct to say "no."

 A typical confused situation goes something like this. A Westerner takes his car to a Chinese mechanic to have it fixed. He asks will it be ready tomorrow. The mechanic says "yes" because he doesn't want to be rude and say no. The Westerners shows up the next and is angry because his car isn't ready. The mechanic doesn't understand why he is angry: the day before he was only trying to be polite and telling the Westerner what he wanted to hear. The Westerner should have asked, "When will my car be ready?"


Gift Giving in China


 Chinese are not as big on gift-giving as Japanese. Nevertheless it is polite to present a small gift when meeting a Chinese person. Gifts exchanged in business and social situations include fruit, pens, handkerchiefs, chocolates, whiskey, wine, Scotch, or pictures from your home country or city.

 Don’s give anything that is green. Green ss a symbol of cuckoldry. Avoid white. It is associated with death and funerals. One should not give a clock—which to the Chinese symbolize death or the end of a relationship—as a gift. In Chinese, to “give a clock” sound like “seeing someone off to his end.” Don’t give a book because “giving a book" sound like “delivering defeat.” Don’t give an umbrella because doing so implies homonymously that the family of the gift receiver is going to be dispersed.

 The recipient of a gift should make sure to shower the gift giver with thanks, smiles and compliments. When receiving a gift don't open it immediately unless requested to do so. In China, gifts are meant to be opened in private.

 Don't give to much attention to an object when visiting someone' house. The host may feel obligated to give it to you.

 In business and politics, there is a fuzzy line between gift giving and corruption. The issue becomes even more complicated when factoring in the fact that refusing a gift is considered very rude.


Singing, Dancing and Partying Customs in China


 Chinese love to sing. They sing in karaokes and singing rooms, bring portable karaokes to parks and beaches, ask guests to "sing-a-song" at parties, and watch entertainers and actors sing karaoke songs on television. Guests at parties and on bus trips are often asked to sing a song.

 Chinese generally are shyer about dancing than singing, whereas the reverse is true about many Westerners. Chinese children generally have few opportunities to dance when they grow up and feel awkward doing it, but they do a lot of singing in school and tend to regard it as a fun activity like recess or sports. Among Chinese adults karaoke is very popular. In parks, people often sit in groups of twenty or thirty and sing songs or put on plays or operas. Chinese singers with good voices of course are admired more than those with bad voices but even bad singers are applauded for their effort.

 Discos are becoming increasingly popular in China. Men and women usually don't dance as couples. Friends usually dance in a group. Women often dance together and men sometimes dance with each other. Often you are more likely to see people of the same sex dancing together than people of the opposite sex. Sometimes men even slow dance together.

 Chinese like to party in one big group rather than breaking up into small groups and circulating like Westerners do at a cocktail party. When Chinese do divide into groups they tend to divide into separate groups of men and women. Taking turns singing is a popular activity, with one person playing the role of "emcee" and calling on the others to participate one by one. If you attend a party like this it is a good idea to have a song ready in the case you are called upon to sing.

 See Karaoke, Culture, Music


Women Customs in China


 Many Chinese women cover their mouth when the laugh. Traditionally, a woman that laughed too loud or openly was considered uncouth and ill bred.

 Many Chinese men look upon women smokers with disgust and consider smoking a very unladylike thing to do. Over the past couple decades smoking and drinking have increased dramatically among women.


Home Customs in China


 Unlike Japanese and Koreans, Chinese usually keep their shoes on when entering a house. More and more, though, Chinese are leaving their shoes at the door Japanese style.

 Unlike Japanese and Koreans, who spend a lot of time sitting on the floor, Chinese prefer chairs. Chairs were reportedly introduced the Mongols around 700 years ago. The first Chinese to sit in chair were noblemen who wanted to be higher than the people around them to show their superior position over the people they ruled. The preference for chairs goes hand in hand with wearing shoes in the house. Japanese and Koreans don't want to sit on a floor dirtied by people's shoes but if you sit in a chair it doesn't make as much difference if the floor has a little dirt on it.

 Most Chinese are happy to have tourists visit their home although they often embarrassed by their basic living conditions. Their best food and liquor are usually reserved for guests. House guests are expect to bring a present. A bottle of imported whiskey or wine is usually a safe gift.

Other Media