Watching your own body language – the way you say things and how you act can be difficult when traveling in foreign cultures, but that’s nothing compared to trying to understand gestures from other cultures! Here is a list of gestures around the world that I’ve found rather confusing…
1 The Indian Yes-No-Maybe shake
You’ll barely ever get a straight answer, just the typical loose shake with the head that says “yes and no” at the same time.
I found this so confusing!
2. “Ne” in Greece Means Yes
In Greece, I often found that even when they spoke English to you, they always said ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in Greek.
This wouldn’t be much of a problem, if it wasn’t that “ne” actually means yes…
Most countries in Europe have similar words for no: No, Nein, Nej, Nei etc. so this was definitely confusing.
3. The Head Toss and Tounge Click in Balkan
This short arrogant tounge click simply means no, and is often by westerners seen as a lazy and arrogant gesture.
Another common gesture is the head toss, which often comes together with the Tongue Click.
They toss their heads back and click their tounges, as a way of saying “no” or “no we don’t have it”.
It really looks arrogant and lazy, but I’ve had friends from Croatia and they acted the same to each other all the time, to them it’s just the way they say no.
Some countries, like Turkey, exaggerate even more by raising their eye brows.
4. The Bent Finger in Hungary
If they mean straight and then turn left, they put out their index finger bent towards the left.
Not very confusing, but I thought it was pretty funny.
5. Bulgarian head nod.
For some reason, they have done the same thing but opposite. The head nod up and down means “no”, and the head nod from side to side means “yes”.
This gets pretty bizarre sometimes when the other person can’t speak English very well and explain!
Have you experienced any of these while traveling? If you have experienced other confusing ones, please share them in the comments below!