The head nod in western cultures says agreement. In other cultures such as in Bulgaria and Sri Lanka it means disagreement, although from studies of the deaf and blind, it is apparent that this gesture is also innate. The nod used as a greeting, performed as a quick drop of the head, may stem from an abbreviated head bow. As we learned, lowering the body signifies a submissive posture, and so too does agreement. In Japan the head nod usually signals to the speaker that they are being heard and doesn’t necessarily indicate agreement. Thus, head nods are particularly specific to cultures so caution is important.

The head bobble, which is a side to side motion across an arc also means different things to different cultures. For example, in East Slavic it means disapproval and in India it means “okay”. In Bulgaria, India and Pakistan the head bobble means “yes.” Other gestures by the head can include the chin point, in the West, which is a slick way of pointing out other girls to your buddy without getting caught. Sometimes the chin point is used as a greeting between friends as an informal acknowledgement of each other’s presence. In Greece, Turkey and Arabic-speaking countries pulling the head back in a jerking motion signals “no” but in Ethiopia it actually means “yes.”