I have been asked so many time why I shake my head and say “Yes!”, why I nod when meaning “No!”?! People told me that they didn`t understand my response. Others just accused me of not knowing how to use gestures?! Hmm?
A gesture is a form of non-verbal communication in which visible bodily actions communicate particular messages, either in place of speech or together and in parallel with words. Using gesture in communication can be confusing sometimes, especially when we travel to other countries.
However, most of the times we use body language inattentive, unconsciously, without even noticing that. We weren`t taught by our parents how to use gesture. Actually, we just developed this ability by growing up and observing the world around us.
It is coming naturally to nod heads up and down when we agree with a statement, isn`t it? Or when we want to say “no” we usually shake heads side to side.
Well, as a original Bulgarian this doesn`t sound correct to me. Because in Bulgaria we tend to nod heads up and down when we disagree and we shake heads side to side for “yes”. Sounds really confusing, right? What can be even more absurd is that in Bulgaria we usually nod slightly up and down when we want to indicate that we listen to what our communication partner is saying but this doesn`t mean that we disagree with her/him.
Charles Darwin was the first to notice this expressions and started observing them in the different parts of the world. He wrote up his findings in a book called “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals” in 1872.
What is very interesting is the origin of the gesture. There are many theories about it but the one, which sounds the most appealing to me is the babies. When babies are hungry they would move heads vertically in search for milk (their mothers`breasts) and when they don`t want more milk they would move heads side to side trying to “escape” from the mommy`s breast.
The “yes” and “no” gesture is universe but only Bulgaria and Sri Lanka are using it in the exactly opposite way. Of course, every nation has customs of the gesture. Despite of the cultural differences we would nod for “yes” and we would shake head for “no”.
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