Some Asian countries consider stepping over someone as an anti-social behavior. People in these areas have cultural beliefs that define legs as the dirtiest part of the body; stepping over someone is a sign of disrespect in regions such as Nepal. The cultural norms in Thailand condemn people against pointing others using their legs. This behavior is not necessarily offensive as the legs are not dirty, as the people in Southern Asia perceive them. The feet are just like any other part of the body; overstepping may be due to an accident, hence, it is not antisocial. Other parts of Asia believe that holding someone’s head is a sign of disrespect. The head is a sacred part of the body, and this makes it wrong to touch a person’s holy region (Gooden, 2005). This act is not offensive as other parts of the world believe that it is a sign of respect or compliment.
Russians believe that shaking hands or conducting a transaction across a threshold is a faux pas. People believe such acts bring bad luck. They suggest that it is advisable to wait until an individual enters the house rather than conduct any activity at the threshold. This is unpopular among many cultures as many people perform their transactions, especially with strangers at the threshold. The peace sign among Americans, which involves raising two fingers, is termed to be insulting in some parts of the world, for instance United Kingdom and Australia (Gooden, 2005). It is crucial to learn these gestures to avoid causing trouble in such regions. The peace sign is not offensive as it has been applied for several years, and has gained worldwide popularity. Iran forbids people from using gestures such as raising the thumb up; it is considered as an insult. Most parts of the world consider this gesture as a compliment or a generally positive gesture.
The culture that would be the most difficult to live in is India. Many behaviors tend to be awkward in the region; the culture forbids the use of the left hand, especially during eating or giving gifts. This act may pose a challenge especially to the left-handed people. The Indians perceive public holding of hands as a sign of immorality, which is not the case in most regions of the world. The people believe that it is an insult for someone to finish food on a plate. It is a sign of disrespect on the host, and may make people have a negative attitude towards someone. This is not offensive as other parts of the world believe that a person should not leave food on the plate. Africans believe that leaving some food on the plate is a sign of disrespect for the host and God.
Faux pas occur due to cultural differences that exist among people from different regions of the world. The rapid interaction of people from various racial backgrounds and ethnicities has made individuals aware of the existing faux pas. Some of the awkward behaviors that may not necessarily seem offensive include using the left hand, using the two fingers as a sign of peace, lifting the thumb, stepping over someone, and shaking hands across a threshold.
Gooden, P. (2005). Faux pas?: A no-nonsense guide to words and phrases from other languages. London: A. & C. Black.