Greeting Gestures In International Business

Many readers of this column have been inquiring now and then for some information about greeting gestures on international business.

Gestures are part of our culture, interwoven in our social lives and whether exporters realize it or not - they are powerful communicators in business.

Everyday we see people use their hands, their heads, and their bodies to communicate expressively with others. Gestures like high fives, thumbs up, clenched fists, victory sign, and even huggings are very popular not only in our culture but in other cultures as well. Indeed, gestures, commonly referred to as the "silent language" are used by everybody... by children, by athletes, by teachers, by sidewalk vendors, by traffic policemen, and by waiters, to name a few. No less than 700,000 gestures have been identified. But what is intriguing is that one gesture may be interpreted differently in the various cultures of the world.

One of the most popular gestures are so-called greeting gestures. Many of us are of the mistaken notion that handshake is the only kind of greeting gesture. Not true. There are other social greetings. And even in the case of the handshake, there are many different ways of shaking hands. Let me share with you some interesting tidbits about greeting gestures:-

• Handshake, probably the most popular gesture of greeting involves more than just hand pressure. The familiar "firm handshake and direct eye contact" is no longer universally accepted. The "gentle handshake" "trying to avoid direct eye contact" seems to be the growing preference in some countries like Japan.

• In some countries in the Middle East where it is not accepted practice for men to touch women, men should never offer to shake hands with the women.

• The French tops other nationalities when it comes to handshaking with people. They just love to handshake with people in any occasion, be it social or business, in the morning, afternoon, or evening. Probably, it is only Bolivians of South America who can match the French when it comes to handshaking.

• In some countries, the handshake is followed by a "bear hug" like what they do in Russia.

• The so-called "bear hug" is referred to as "abrazo" in Latin American countries. In other places however, like in North American and Northern European countries, people find hugging uncomfortable while other find hugging distasteful.

• In other places, instead of handshake, the people greet each other by rubbing noses. Remember the Eskimos' way of greeting one another?

• The Japanese traditional way of bowing as a form of greeting has retained its reverence and dignity despite the fact that the younger Japanese generation is now adapting some Western ways including the shaking of hands as a form of greeting.

• There are also exotic versions of greeting gestures. For example, in the sweeping upward and touching the heart; then the forehead; and finally up and outward and sometimes accompanied with a slight nod of the head.

Exporters who are serious in pursuing their businesses should spend some time studying, understanding, and appreciating the cultural peculiarities of the foreign buyers. Greeting gestures as practised in different cultures is indeed a mystique that defies logical study on the subject.

Have a joyful day!


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Indonesia informs drug convicts of execution
    Indonesia informs drug convicts of execution

    Indonesia said Saturday it had officially notified eight foreign drug convicts that they will be executed, prompting an appeal from United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon to spare the prisoners and suspend the death penalty. A Frenchman also on death row for drug-related crimes was granted a temporary reprieve after Paris stepped up pressure on Jakarta. The eight -- from Australia, Brazil, Nigeria and the Philippines -- have been transported to the high-security prison island of Nusakambangan where …

  • UN chief urges Indonesia to spare drug convicts from execution
    UN chief urges Indonesia to spare drug convicts from execution

    United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon appealed to Indonesia on Saturday to spare from impending execution a group of 10 death-row drug convicts, most of them foreigners. "The Secretary General appeals to the government of Indonesia to refrain from carrying out the execution, as announced, of 10 prisoners on death row for alleged drug-related crimes," a spokesman for Ban said. Earlier Saturday, Indonesia said it had officially notified eight foreign nationals convicted of drug crimes -- from …

  • AFP monitoring deployment of Chinese seaplanes in Spratlys
    AFP monitoring deployment of Chinese seaplanes in Spratlys

    The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is adopting a wait and see approach amid reports that China will soon deploy seaplanes to further strengthen its maritime claims in the disputed Spratlys. Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala, spokesman for the military and commander of the AFP Civil Relations Service, said they have yet to ascertain the real purpose behind China’s continuing aggressive moves in the region. “We will wait and see before coming up with an official stand,” Kakilala said when …

  • US eyes access to Phl bases in 8 locations
    US eyes access to Phl bases in 8 locations

    The United States has asked for access to Philippine military bases in eight locations to rotate troops, aircraft and ships as Washington shifts its forces to Asia and as China expands its military presence in the South China Sea. US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in a speech in Arizona, has outlined Washington’s next phase in its Asia “pivot,” deploying its most sophisticated destroyers, bombers and fighters to the region. The Asia “pivot” has already seen US Marines rotating through the …

  • Washington bucks China’s aggressive actions
    Washington bucks China’s aggressive actions

    Short of condemning China’s aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea, a senior US military official said Washington does not support any act of coercion and bullying. “We don’t stand for coercion, bullying and aggressiveness,” said Brig. Gen. Christopher Mahoney, assistant US military director for  Phl-US Joint Balikatan Exercises 2015. At the sidelines of this year’s joint military exercises’ static aircraft display held at Clark Air Base in Pampanga, Mahoney told a media briefing that …

  • ‘Giving Bangsamoro police control is constitutional’
    ‘Giving Bangsamoro police control is constitutional’

    The proposed grant to the chief minister of the envisioned Bangsamoro region of operational control over police forces in the area is consistent with the Constitution, a senior administration lawmaker said yesterday. Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. of Dasmariñas City in Cavite made the statement to allay the fears of his colleagues that the proposal, contained in the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), would violate the Charter. It is clear in the proposed BBL that the Bangsamoro police will be part …

  • Noy off to KL for Asean meet
    Noy off to KL for Asean meet

    President Aquino will arrive here this afternoon with Manila hopeful of support from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to achieve peace and stability in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) as well as economic prosperity and inclusive growth among the people in the region. Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Jose Eduardo Malaya III said that with respect to the dramatic developments in the South China Sea, Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman had called for the early …

  • Madrid Fusion Manila reignites Pinoy appetite for great food
    Madrid Fusion Manila reignites Pinoy appetite for great food

    After months of preparation and hard work from both the government and private sectors, the future of food is finally here in the country’s capital. Madrid Fusión Manila opened its doors on Friday to an international delegation who eagerly awaited the discussions of some of the most renowned and revered names in the culinary world. Madrid Fusión Manila is a historic gastronomic event marked by talks and exhibitions that showcases Spain and the Philippines’ shared cultural heritage, as well as …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options