Gestures and Hand Signals - What They really Mean

So, what do those hand gestures really mean? Be assured that somewhere in
the world, all hand gestures can and do mean different things and many are
considered to be rude, evil or sexual in nature. The chances of you insulting
someone with a commonly seen hand gesture us a given.

The current and popular signal/hand gesture seems to be the Horned Owl
or the Manto Cornuto.

In 2004 Jenna Bush, the daughter of President George W. Bush gave the
horns signal at the 2004 presidential inauguration. It shocked the world.
President George Bush, Laura Bush and Barbara Bush, the President's Mother
have been photographed giving the signal.

President Bill Clinton also gave the signal at his first inaugural.

Michelle Obama gave the "El Diablo" hand signal on the recent cover
of Vogue magazine and this hand signal was given by president Obama
at his inauguration ball.

The "El Diablo" hand signal is often confused with the deaf signal
of the phrase "I love you." Helen Keller invented/created this hand
system for the deaf.

Just a slight difference between the gestures and a huge difference
in meaning if the signal is given with the right hand or the left hand
and the placement of the thumb.

Think back to Winston Churchill and his famous V for victory signal,
the okay hand signal and the thumb/hand movement are all rude and/or
sexual gestures in some countries.

Men, if you cross your leg and the sole of your shoe is seen, you have
just insulted your host in Asian and in the Middle East. Remember when
a journalist threw his shoe at President Bush. Think what that gesture meant.

In Asia if you eat all of your food or drink your entire glass of saki, you
have silently told your host that you have not had enough to eat or drink.
Think how many times as a child growing up in North American you have been
told clean up your plate, eat all of your food.

Consider using an open-handed gesture, palm up instead of pointing
at someone.

Be aware of how close you are standing to someone. Closer than 18 inches
and you are standing in someone's intimate space.

Two universally accepted gestures are the positive nodding of the head
and a smile. A real smile starts in the heart, then shows around the mouth
and then around the eyes. What you thought were wrinkles around the eyes,
are really your positive attitude indicators.

Be assured someone, somewhere in the world will be insulted or offended by
any and all gestures you make. Why take that chance?


Gloria Starr, President and Founder of Gloria Starr International. Established 1983. Areas of expertise include image, business etiquette, manners, communication skills and leadership excellence.

Ms. Starr has been recognized by the United States Government as a consultant of extraordinary ability and talent and ranked in the top 5% of consultants worldwide. The Society for the Advancement of Consulting awarded Ms. Starr "Excellence in Consulting and Coaching."...

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