25 Surprising Ways To Offend People In Other Countries

Posted by , Updated on December 4, 2017

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You are not going to believe some of the surprising ways you can offend people in other countries. It’s a lot easier than you may think. Usually you’ll offend someone by misunderstanding the cultural communication norms found in a country. Given that communication is 55% body language, 38% voice tone, and 7% spoken word; these misunderstandings should not be that surprising. Nevertheless, you should still watch out for them. Languages and communication norms vary across different countries and societies and if you don’t learn how these norms differ, things can get…interesting. As a note: since List 25 is based in the United States, “Other Countries” to us means “countries outside of the United States”. With that in mind, check out these 25 surprising ways to offend people in other countries.

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In the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand, throwing up a "peace sign" (with palm facing you) is not seen as peaceful. It's actually the same as giving the middle finger in the US. Why? Legend says the "two fingered salute" started with Longbowmen fighting for England during the Hundred Years' War. When French would capture the archers they would cut off these two fingers, making them ineffective. Therefore showing those two fingers still being intact was a gesture of defiance against the enemy. However, there is no historical sources to support this legend.

VsignSource: http://nypost.com/
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When in Turkey, never point the sole of your foot towards a person. Also, don't put your hands in your pockets or on your hips, as this is a sign of disrespect.

Sole_of_footSource: http://www.ediplomat.com
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In Vietnam, crossed fingers is a symbol of, ahem, a specific female body part. So don't so that there, unless you're intending to be vulgar (you shouldn't go to another country as a visitor and be vulgar, just so we're clear).

crossedfingersSource: http://www.huffingtonpost.com
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Don't laugh with your mouth open in Japan. It's considered rude and horse like. Well...okay then. Conversely, in India they have groups that meet together and just laugh out loud because laughter is very good for you.

Two_people_laughingSource: http://www.businessinsider.com
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Being late and being on time. In Germany, if you're just a few minutes late it's considered very rude, as if you value your time more than others. But in places like Argentina, if you show up on time it can be considered a bit rude, almost like being early.

Running_for_the_trainSource: http://www.businessinsider.com

Image Credits: 1. Public Domain, 2. Emanuele Spies from São Leopoldo, RS, Brasil via commons.wikimedia.org CC BY 2.0, 3. EncMstr via commons.wikimedia.org CC BY-SA 3.0, 4. User:Quetzalothep via commons.wikimedia.org CC BY-SA 3.0, 5. Mick and Rortles via en.wikipedia.org CC BY-SA 4.0, 6-10. Public Domain, 11. Shutterstock, 12-16. Public Domain, 17. Dina Said via en.wikipedia.org CC BY-SA 4.0, 18-22. Public Domain, 23. 1ur1 via commons.wikimedia.org CC BY 2.0, 24-25. Public Domain.

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