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A single photograph can communicate as much information as an entire volume of written text. Similarly, a single gesture can often communicate as much as an entire conversation. Furthermore, gestures tend to leave lasting impressions. Your mother’s last wave as the kindergarten bus pulled away on your first day of school, the thumbs up sign your father gave you from the back of the auditorium on graduation day or the upwardly thrust middle finger as your ex-partner peeled out of your driveway for the last time will remain with you forever. Chances are, all the different feelings you experienced when you saw those gestures will stick with you for just as long.
As powerful as gestures are, however, their meanings are not always universal. Gestures often remain the same across cultures but carry dramatically different meanings and connotations. Your father’s thumbs up graduation day sign would have had a very different effect on your mood if you both had been natives of Greece. Use the following infographic from Pimsleur Approach to learn more about common American hand gestures and their meanings in different parts of the world.