Body Language in Turkey

As any country Turkey has it's own body language. It can be kind of funny or even strange for some other culture to watch those gestures and try to understand what a person is trying to tell you. Understanding the body language is also understanding the culture of a country.

So here are some main body languages that you will see in Turkey. Enjoy !

  • The handshake is not the most common greeting among friends. A man will greet another man by kissing each other on both cheeks. A man will greet a woman also on the same way. Note that if there are two religious people (these is valid between a woman and a man) they would not touch themselves with a handshake or kiss.

  • It is very common in Turkey to see two man holding hands or arm in arm at walking on the street (Turks tend to touch much more than Westerners). This does not mean they are homosexual, they are just good friends :)

  • Turks tend to stare at one another and foreigners more than Westerners are accustomed to. Westerners should not feel singled out or watched when such behavior occurs.

  • If you see someone holding their hand with palm up and bringing fingers in toward thumb, this is a compliment and generally means something is "good." It can be done when they like a food, a cloth, or any object. It can also mean they find a woman or man nice and handsome.

  • The "thumbs up" gesture is commonly used for hitchhiking

  • Shaking your head sideways means, "I don't understand."

  • Raising your chin, moving your eyebrows up and simultaneously clicking your tongue means "NO." (Try it. It is fun ! ). This one is one of the most different gestures of the Turkish body language and can be also found in Greece.Please check the picture at the right hand side showing this gesture. A sharp downward nod means yes.

  • If a Turk waves their hand up and down at you, palm towards the ground, they are signaling for you to come.

  • The gesture created by protruding your thumb between the first and second finger has an extremely offensive meaning. This gesture is called "the fig" and is considered obscene throughout much of the Mediterranean area.

  • The idle habit of snapping your fingers with one hand and then slapping the top of a closed fist is considered obscene. This may be one of the rudest possible gestures.
turkish body language
Body language that means
Body language
that means "No"
Gesture that means a person is homosexual
Gesture that means
a person is homosexual
  • The gesture created when a circle is formed by touching the forefinger to the thumb does not mean "ok." In Turkey this symbol means you are a homosexual. It is quite offensive. Please see picture at the left hand side.

  • It is rude to point your finger or the sole of your shoe toward a person.

Date: September 1st, 2001
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