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European Gestures

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, June 08, 2017


They say actions speak louder than words, and often times our gestures and body language can say a lot about a message we are trying to convey as opposed to merely words themselves. In some areas of the world such as Europe, gestures hold more weight in communication styles. To an outsider, many of these gestures may go unnoticed or misunderstood., however they play a large part in communication in this part of the world.

Fingertip Kisses

While most commonly attributed to Italy, this gesture is also used in Germany, Spain, and France as well. This gesture consists of kissing the tips of ones fingers then flinging the hand out in front of them. This is most commonly used to compliment something, most frequently food.


Eyelid Pull

Also common is the eyelid pull, which is less friendly and more assertive. This gesture consists of taking a finger and pulling down one's bottom eyelid. Seen as a warning, this gesture sends the message that one is watching you and is onto your clever ways.


Chin Flick

The meaning of the chin flick in Europe vaires by location, however in Italy and France it signifies that one is uninterested or bored. It is considered to be fairly rude, however in Portugal the gesture just means "I don't know."


The Upwards Cupped Hand (Hand Purse)

This gesture is most frequently used in Italy, however is also used in other places in Europe. This gesture indicates a question, however it can also be used to signify annoyance with someone and to call them a fool. In France, this gesture can also mean fear, or good in Greece and Turkey.

The Nose Tap

Tapping your nose signifies secrecy and that something should not be spoken about. In Italy, it can mean "watch out!" and in France and Belgium it can signify a shared secret that no one else knows.

Personal Space

In the United States, people are very conscious of personal space and generally like to have distance between each other when conversing or interacting. However in Europe, people are very affectionate, even with people they do not know. People greet each other with kisses and hugs, and conversations happen at a close distance. In Spain, if you step back, it is considered rude.

Body language and gestures can vary from country to country, so next time you travel or host an international visitor be sure to do some research to know what message you are communicating!



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