There are offensive gestures in every country because that is just part of human behavior. In America, flipping the bird with the middle finger is probably the most offensive gesture, and much of North America has the same tradition here. It is easy to make the mistake of making offensive gestures in other countries because some of them are very common everyday gestures in North America.
It is important to know offensive gestures in any country because the consequences could be severe. Some offensive gestures could lead to citations or sanctions, while others will result in social embarrassment and could ruin a vacation or business trip.
It’s natural in the United States or Canada even to point at something when we get excited about it. Still, North Americans are taught that it can be rude. In Malaysia, it is eye-opening to watchers and considered beyond inconsiderate. It is so offensive in Malaysia, that employees at big brands such as Disney are taught not to point because some cultures that may be present will find it insulting and it could ruin their entire trip. If you must point in Malaysia, or around Malaysians, use two fingers.
It is common to pat someone’s head in affection, and it can even be a sweet gesture on occasion. Another common gesture with this in America is ruffling someone’s hair. In Thailand, a big no. The head is a sacred portion of the body and a strictly hands-off zone. On the flip side, the feet are the most unclean body part, and using your feet to point or touch someone can be as offensive.
This chin flick in Italy is going to be met with stunned silence from the Italians in your crowd, or, worse, drama. This is true if you are giving the chin flick in Italy, or in America. It’s just not done to them. It’s a move that is more aggressive than flipping the bird to Americans. It means you don’t care what they are talking about and is considered to be dismissive.
The Moon in Taiwan is considered an important symbol of an ancient tradition. The Moon symbolizes an important goddess to those in Taiwan. Pointing at it is said to incite her wrath. Worse, the people of Taiwan believe there are consequences for doing that. One ancient tradition has it that you will lose your year if you point at the Moon. If you’re admiring a beautiful Moon in Taiwan, keep your hands to yourself, especially if you are around any of the citizens of this East Asian country.
|United Arab Emirates|
|Republic of the Congo|
|Central African Republic|
|Trinidad and Tobago|
|Sao Tome and Principe|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines|
|Antigua and Barbuda|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis|
|Papua New Guinea|
The hand gesture that is considered the most offensive will vary from country to country. In Malaysia, for example, it is offensive to point. Touching heads is offensive in Thailand, a chin flick is offensive in Italy, and you should not point at the moon in Taiwan as it's seen as offensive.