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 executive presence, 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 Consu...

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