Statistics show that most toddlers learn how to say about 20 words by 18 months. Talking is easy, ask anyone and they won’t even remember how they started doing it, it just comes naturally.

But what might not flow as smoothly as words, is body language. It’s a whole different deal when you’re using your hands, eyes or head instead of your tongue. And what makes it even more complicated is the fact that body language differs all around the world, just like spoken language, except there are countless subtleties.

I find it shockingly amazing how just a small finger gesture could mean one thing in the east and the absolute opposite in the west. People are different, and they make sure it’s not kept secret.

For instance, in Japan bowing is the most common greeting. It signifies respect and they pay a lot of attention to the details like the timing, posture and movement. A bow in Japan reflects sincerity, respect and graciousness. They even consider an improper bow as a sign of a lack of education and maturity.

While in New Zealand Maori, the pressing of noses and foreheads is the traditional greeting. They call it the hongi, which actually means "smell" or "sniff", or as they describe it: the breath of life.

And if you ever go to Morocco, be patient because greetings can last up to 10 minutes. Moroccans greet each other by shaking each others right hand, and then touching their hand to their heart, which indicates that they're taking the meeting to heart. Doesn't that sound beautiful?

For most of us, nodding your head up and down often means agreement, but not for the Bulgarians or Greeks. In both cultures, nodding your head up and down actually means "no".

And while tugging the ear lobes could indicate tasty food for the Portuguese, it actually has a sexual content in Italy. Tapping your nose in England would mean confidential information, but at the same time a warning sign that means ‘watch’ out in Italy.

The American goodbye wave could actually be interpreted as a ‘no’ in many parts of Europe and Latin America. And the Italian goodbye wave would be understood in America as a ‘come here’ and the American ‘come here’ gesture would actually be seen as an insult in most of Asia.

An innocent inverted “peace” sign means “go to hell” in Britain. And while we all assume that laughter is a sign of happiness, high pitched laughter indicates nervousness in Japan and smiling upon strangers in public is considered a very suspicious behavior in Russia.

Be super-careful in Asia not to touch any part of someone's body with your foot, it's considered the 'lowest' part of the body there. And if you ever accidentally do this, make sure to apologize by touching your hand to the person's arm and then touching your own head.

So before you travel to explore and indulge yourself in a different culture, make sure you know about you're aware of alternate meanings for body language. We live in a very culturally diverse world, so don't forget how differently one innocent hand gesture can be interpreted!

Author's Bio: 

Tom Casano is the founder of Life Coach Spotter. At Life Coach Spotter you can learn all about life coaching, what it is, and how to find your life coach. Find out how having a life coach can radically transform your life in just a few months. Click here to learn more about finding your life coach.