Nonverbal Communication of India vs. United States

When I began research on India I went back and thought about what my Mom had said when she traveled there years ago. The respect the have for everyone, even people they do not even know is insane. The very second you do something to offend them though is when you completely lose all respect they had for you and gaining it back is very hard to do. Research on India was very easy, already knowing  a lot about India was definitely a benefit all I really had to do was fact checking and comparison with what my group members came up with. Below are the main, most common and most important comparisons of India and the United States that anyone should take into consideration before traveling there.
  • Never touch anyone’s head in India, because it is considered the “seat of the soul” and is very offensive.
  • A head shake means yes while a head nod means no.
  • Starring is considered not offensive and a sign of “natural curiosity.”
  • Winking or whistling is considered rude.  Winking is considered an immediate invitation for sex.  Women in India would take a wink as being “too flirtatious” and unattractive.
  • Avoid use of the left hand.  It is considered the “unclean” hand.  Also accepting items and eating with the left hand is considered offensive.
  • Use a bow with hands together to greet someone.
  • Waving is the sign of “go away” instead of “hello.”
  • To call someone with your hand, your palm must be facing downward toward the ground.
  • The Indians have a “one arm length” rule when communicating.
  • Pointing is very frowned upon and considered a very rude gesture.
  • The cutis is another way of saying “F” you.  This is done by placing ones thumbnail behind the upper front teeth and then “flicking” it at the person it is untended to.
  • Pointing your feet or showing the bottom of your feet is offensive because the feet are also considered like the left hand “unclean”.
  • Before entering indoors, shoes must be removed and socks must be on and clean without any holes.
United States:
  • A head pat or head touch is an affectionate way of saying “well done” or “good job”.
  • A head nod means “yes” and a head shake means “no”.
  • Starring is considered rude in the USA, and very frowned upon.
  • Winking or whistling can be taken as a funny, fool around idea.  Also can be taken offensively in different situations.
  • The use of any hand is acceptable, depending on your preferable hand.
  • Hand shake or any sentimental touching is acceptable (ex- handshake, hug, kissing) Waving is a polite way to say hello from a distance.
  • Palm can be facing up to call someone.
  • The Americans have a one arm length along with the Indian culture.
  • In America, pointing is also a very rude gesture and could initiate confrontation.
  • The cutis in America is done by sticking up the “middle finger”.
  • There is no real communication regarding feet in America.
  • Each household or place has a different rule about shoes and socks depending on the household owner.
When communicating with the Indian Culture, there are many ways to easily offend them.  Educating yourself on their culture could have great benefits to communication and respect. Barriers include improper hand gestures that could propose disrespect and arrogance to the culture.  When doing business or just simply greeting an Indian person, the last thing you want to happen is offend them or their culture.     Lastly, knowing there are different ways of communicating between cultures will have a positive outcome from a business aspect and also a social aspect.
“gestures that are offensive in india”. DOI: X “Gestures that are offensive in India”

One thought on “Nonverbal Communication of India vs. United States

  1. I really like your list of differences between USA and India and their non-verbal communications. This is something that I would be able to use and take into consideration if I ever decide to travel to India. It will save me from making some one angry and being disrespectful.

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