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Culture Crossing by Michael Landers

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FOUR

What’s Not Being Said

Discover the hidden meanings of nonverbal communication

What’s a gesture that means the same thing in every culture? Any guesses? I’ve asked this same question of over twelve thousand people from about fifty countries. I define gesture here in the broadest sense, as a movement of part of the body to express an idea or meaning, without words.

One of the most popular answers to my question is “Nodding to say ‘Yes’ or shaking your head left-right to mean ‘No.’” Other common responses include the middle finger, the okay sign, and thumbs up. See Figure 4.1 for illustrations.

image

Figure 4.1: Hand gestures

People are often surprised ...

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