I was thinking about how easy we can communicate the wrong meaning in a situation and cause miscommunication without meaning to.
Even non-verbally we communicate differently all over the world. Indians bow and say Namaste as Greetings. In the middle East – greetings is Salaam and the person touches their heart, forehead, and up & outward. In Canada, we nod to acknowledge strangers and shake hands or share a hug with close friends and relatives. Tibetan tribesman say hello by sticking their tongues out and some East African tribes spit at each other.
In North America whistling is a sign of approval, such as at a performance or sporting event. But in Europe, whistling means the opposite. Whistling means disapproval and derision such as when the fans dislike a referee call.
In the situation of entering a crowded aisle of seated people such as a theatre, in North America we usually slide along facing forward and our backsides face the people who are letting us into the aisle. In the Soviet Union and in some European countries this would be rude, you should enter the aisle and slide along facing the people.
When travelling, if we want to know the local practice, we should watch others. Waving our hands back and forth, Beckoning palm up with the index finger, the “ok” sign with thumb and finger, even V for victory if done wrong mean drastically different things around the world and the wrong gesture can result in an insult!
The best gesture is internationally understood, and is good for us because it releases endorphins.
Feel free to use it freely, driving, walking, and use it often and this is of course, the smile. How easy, and as a bonus it exercises all those facial muscles! Exercise them now!