Body Language 61 Air Kissing

January 3, 2020

A very common gesture when people greet each other is a kind of mock kiss called “air kissing.” The movement occurs more in social than in business settings, although in some cultures the gesture is used in business settings routinely.

Air kissing should not be confused with “blowing a kiss,” which always starts with kissing one’s hand then blowing the kiss to the other person.

With air kissing, there is always some form of loose embrace going on. The two people move their faces to the right of the other person’s face as they move toward each other to embrace.

It appears as if they were going to actually kiss the cheek of the other person. The gesture can be awkward, and with the heightened attention to sexual harassment, it is best to refrain from using an air kiss unless it is initiated by the other person. This is particularly important in a business setting.

The air kiss is often associated with movie stars, rock stars, or other celebrities. In entertainment settings, the air kiss is depicted as a way to demonstrate super-star power when greeting someone.

Rather than actually contact the cheek with the lips, a kissing motion is made with the mouth while the two cheeks are touching. It is a way to show affection without spreading a lot of germs, so it has become quite popular. The French phrase for air kissing is les bises. Sometimes the air kiss is accompanied by a verbal sound imitating a kiss, e.g. “Mwah.”

The only confusing part of the air kiss is a kind of awkward situation where as the two parties come together, one person assumes this is a situation for an actual kiss on the cheek or even the lips while the other person wants to perform the air kiss move. Sometimes that movement can result in kissing an unintended area of the face.

Kissing is a common gesture that is highly culture specific. You need to use care to understand the culture of the other person to do the right thing. Here are a few examples of how the gesture differs in specific cultures. This information, plus a lot more detail, is available as a reference in a book titled “Kiss. Bow, or Shake Hands” by Morrison, and Conaway.

Saudi Arabia

A traditional Saudi greeting consists of shaking the right hand while placing the left hand on the right shoulder of the other person and exchanging kisses on each cheek of the other person. In this culture they use an actual kiss rather than an air kiss.

India

The correct greeting gestures in India vary greatly as there are several subcultures involved between the different religious sects: Hindu, Muslim, Sikhs, Christian as well as several others. Indians of all ethnic groups disapprove of public affection between people of the opposite sex. Do not touch (except in handshaking), hug, or kiss in any form when greeting someone of the opposite sex.

Egypt

Men may kiss men and women kiss women as a greeting in Egypt, but avoid the gesture with a person of the opposite sex. It is not uncommon for a businessman to kiss another businessman who he knows well on the lips in Egypt.

Indonesia and Malaysia

In Indonesia, and Malaysia, it is common to air-kiss an elder’s hand as a traditional form of respectful greeting. Instead of pursing one’s lips, the younger person exhaling through his nose softly on the hand before drawing the hand to the younger person’s forehead.

Inuit Nose rubbing

The kunik or so-called “Eskimo Kiss” consists of rubbing both noses together as a sign of affection, usually practiced by family members or loved ones. It is a non-erotic but intimate greeting used by people who, when they meet outside, often have little except their nose and eyes exposed.

Around the world, you will see the practice of air kissing or some other variant as described here. The precaution is to use this gesture sparingly, especially if you are not among good friends or family. It works better in a social setting than in a business application, although you will find it used in both in several cultures.

As with all body language gestures, if you are unsure of the suitability of the action with a particular person or in a specific situation, it is best to refrain from initiating it.

This is a part in a series of articles on “Body Language” by Bob Whipple “The Trust Ambassador.”


Body Language 53 The Tongue

November 9, 2019

The tongue is actually used a lot in body language. We often do not realize it, but that part of the body is highly visible and capable of sending all kinds of messages because it is easily manipulated.

Sticking out the tongue is an obvious signal. That is the most common gesture, and it normally is an insulting or mocking gesture.

Be a little careful here because sticking out the tongue can have several different meanings in itself and have various meanings in different cultures.

Neah Na Na Neah Neah

This is the classic tongue gesture intended to mock another person. Often you will see the tongue in a round configuration jutting out as far as the person can manage. A person will usually not have the tongue flat when making this kind of gesture, although sometimes you may see that done.

Awful taste

If someone bites into something spoiled or bitter that tastes horrible, then the tongue might come out flat like, “This tastes awful.” The gesture usually is accompanied by a puckering of the entire face and tightly closed eyes.

Tongue curl

You may see a person stick out her tongue and then curl the tip of it upward. There are numerous interpretations of this gesture all the way from obscene suggestions to beckoning, or pleading.

Tongue in cheek

When a person thrusts his tongue into his cheek so it bulges out, the common interpretation is that what has just been said or done is a spoof. The same gesture can indicate puzzlement, like the person is trying to interpret what just happened.

The common expression for someone fabricating a story is that he was speaking “tongue in cheek.”

Clicking tongue

This gesture is rare, but you will encounter it at times. It is usually a way to draw attention to something significant that just happened. The audible clicking sound with no specific words is an indication to pay attention to something important.

The same gesture is also used by children as a way to get attention or just to annoy other people.

Licking lips

When the tongue is used to lick the lips, it is a signal of desire for something. It usually has to do with food, but it can also take on a social connotation of desire.

Concentration

Children will stick their tongue out of the side of their mouth and cover their upper lip when they are concentrating on an art project, puzzle or other challenging activity.

Lust

When the tongue is extended downward from the side of the mouth it is often a sign of extreme attraction or lust.

Making a straw

You can curl your tongue lengthwise forming a kind of tube. The concept here is wanting to drink in what is being discussed. It is also a facial expression used by children to make a funny face.

Biting the tongue

When a person bites his tongue, it usually is a negative sign. It may be a signal to shut up, or it may be a sign that what is going on is highly distasteful. The implication is that the person is inflicting self-pain in order to block the pain that is coming from what he has seen or heard.

Another interpretation of biting the tongue is to prevent a person from talking. You may hear the expression “bite your tongue,” which means “do not speak.”

Since we can manipulate our tongue in many ways that are perfectly visible to other people, it plays a huge role in body language. Be alert to the signals being sent to you by others with their tongue. See if you can spot some different meanings I have not covered in this article. It’s kind of fun.

This is a part in a series of articles on “Body Language” by Bob Whipple “The Trust Ambassador.”