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Understanding The Meaning of Hand Gestures In Germany

Imagine ... you are going to Germany and people use hand gestures that you are unfamiliar with. How would you feel? Not knowing whether it is a positive hand gesture or a negative one? It's time to find out more about the real meaning of some unspoken communication.

What does this hand gesture mean? 

While in some countries this gesture of holding your thumb upright means that you are happy with something or you simply agree with them, in Germany it means that you are counting (meaning "one") or you want to signal "the number one".

What does it mean if someone raps his knuckles lightly on the table? 

University students use this gesture to greet their professors in a classroom.

How to wish someone good luck? 

Not by crossing your fingers, but by pressing your thumbs. You would say "Ich drücke dir die Daumen = I will press my thumbs for you). You press the thumb into the palm of the hand and wrap all the other fingers around it. It might look like you give someone a "thumbs up", but your thumb is actually in your fist.

Keeping your hands in your pockets, what does it say about you? 


If you are speaking to someone while keeping your hands in your pockets, people will perceive you as very rude and disrespectful. So, if you don't want to leave a bad impression, keep your hands out of your pockets when speaking to someone. 

What does it mean if you pull your eyelid down? 

This gesture (pulling down one of your lower eyelids using your finger) is used to emphasize your sarcasm. 

How do you let someone know (in a joking way) that what they are saying is utterly stupid?

This is a gesture that you should apply only among friends. You press your index finger into your forehead. Most likely, Germans will then react by tapping their forehead in this way to demonstrate how stupid they think the speaker is. 

Have you seen the movie "Inglorious Bastards"? There is scene where a spy is pretending to be a German soldier in a bar and holds up his three middle fingers when requesting 3 glasses. In Germany, you show the number 3 by showing your index and middle fingers alongside your thumb. 

What does this hand gesture mean in Germany?

In many countries, this gesture represents the "ok sign". However, this is not the case in Germany. There, it means (sorry to say!) ... "asshole". 
So, be careful if you want to use body language to tell someone that they are doing a good job or you want to tell "okay" to someone. In this case do it verbally. 

Another way to show someone that what they are saying is a bit silly, would be to wave your hands in front of your face. It's another way of saying "You must be kidding me!" or "You are utterly insane". 

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