People Explain Which Gestures May Be Friendly In One Country But Offensive In Another
Image by Lorri Lang from Pixabay

If one is going to travel, one really should do a little research about the destinations and cultures one is going to visit. You may be offending people when you're trying to be nice.

And then you have a very little amount of time to fix an offensive situation. We all do it of course. It's near impossible to learn everything about every place and culture. But Google does allow us a quick deep dive.

Redditoru/HeWhoMustBeGaywanted to shed light on other cultures and adventures that more of us should have more knowledge about, especially if we travel, by asking:

What's a friendly gesture in one country but a big no-no in another?

When I was in London I learned that whether you can do a great British accent or not... don't. They've seen and heard enough of it. You're not Bridget Jones. Just enjoy the sights.


Vhs Kiss GIF by vhspositiveGiphy

"Thumbs up means ok in America but in Iran it has the same effect as the middle finger."

- Curry12734

No Touching

"In Brazil we are very pro-hugs even with strangers depending on the situation. Like tight hugs. We have no problems about touching as in the shoulder or arm while talking, or side hugging to take pictures with strangers. We also have the kissing thing (not between men tho). We share our life's story and feelings with strangers pretty easily. Waiting-in-a-line-together micro friendships are a thing. There are many cultures where this level of touching and sharing would be considered incredibly weird."

- tdeinha


"In the west a lot of people when greeting kids, put their hand in the kids head, ruffling up their hair or something like that. In Thailand the majority of the country is Buddhist and follows the beliefs so some extent. The head is held as a sacred and cleanest part of the body, even if its a kid so this practice is considered very offensive."

"Luckily the Thais are a very understanding and forgiving people and would happily accept an apology for this oversight and would only hold a grudge if it came from someone who they know to be aware of this. Another thing that we in the west might do without thinking is step across someone in you needed to get past."

"For example if people were sat on the floor around a fire, or a low table, maybe just chilling on the grass with friends in the park or at a festival. If you needed to get past someone you may step over their body to some degree, maybe stepping over their legs or something innocuous to us."

"Just as the head is held in high regard, the feet are the opposite, believed to be dirty and it is very disrespectful to point your feet at someone, step over any part of their body etc.. A simple excuse me (koh toad khap), with a gesture in the direction you wish to pass will result in the person happily moving out of your way and appreciating your respect of their cultural beliefs."

- fifadex

"Are you Canadian?"

"Took a trip to Australia last summer, and I'm from the US. When people heard my accent they would ask, "Are you Canadian?" and after having replied no to several people, I asked why they never asked if I was from the states. Apparently Canadians are insulted if you ask them if they are American, so it's just custom to ask everyone if they are Canadian first."

- Lost_Ad_8970



"Although tipping is obligatory in the US, but I also heard that in some countries like Japan and China tipping often makes them feel inferior."

- Qrainix_

Now that is a lot of new information. Look how easy it is to step in. And the bigger the step, the bigger the fix. I still say in this day and age, the less touching the better though. No offense...

Listen Close

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"German 'tschüss' (goodbye) apparently sounds like 'Qù sǐ' (去死) to Chinese tourists, meaning 'go to death'."

- NoGravitasForSure

And I mean STARE...

"I had a Chinese neighbor who would stare at me. And I mean STARE. There was one time when he was in his front yard and I was getting in my car. I decided to stare back. We just stared at each other for a good 20 seconds. I lost the staring contest because it was agonizingly awkward."

"I researched Chinese customs and found out that they apparently stare a lot and I guess it's not really "friendly," but it's just a normal thing in China. In the US, staring is considered extremely strange and rude. He didn't speak English, so I couldn't even tell him that he was making me and my wife uncomfortable with his constant death stare."

- New_Example7867

American Principal...

"Not necessarily rude but still weird/surprising. In India when you meet someone who is your elder (like significantly older) you touch their feet as a gesture that you are asking for their blessings and showing respect towards them. I think there is a video of an Indian Student who touched the feet of his American Principal on his graduation and left him confused."

- Radiant_Ad5640

Let's Chat

"In America, people talk to strangers on regular basis, do small talk, ask how the other person is doing, etc. in my country if you ask a stranger how is he doing it will be really weird and awkward for the person. You don´t even smile or talk in general to strangers in my country."

- Ellenixie

Cook & Clean

"My sister in law recently came to stay with me while my husband was out of town. Apparently in my husbands culture it is a sign of gratitude for guests to help clean around the house and help with cooking. Meanwhile in my American culture having a guest over means busting my butt to clean the house to the point of being spotless and making sure there is a ton of snacks and food available before the guest gets there. First morning she got up like an hour before me and swept the whole house and even brushed the cat hair off the cat tree."

"She also would not let me help cook dinner lol. It made me uncomfortable at first and I tried to tell her that she didn't need to do all that (nicely not in a rude way), but she was very insistent on wanting to help out so I just let her. Apparently it was making her uncomfortable sitting around while she was here lol. Definitely a conflict of cultural norms there lol."

- Eened

Say Nothing

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"I read once that in some cultures, if you're a guest in someone's home, it would be bad form to compliment a household item or decoration, because they will then be obligated to offer it to you as a gift. I can't remember which countries they cited where this was a thing."

- ashfordbelle

On a side note, when in Amsterdam, don't overdo it with the weed. They really can't stand that. Act accordingly.

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