Of course they fascinate me, those classic cross-cultural gesture mix-up stories, like OK versus Asshole and many, many others.
I will pay you for a good video of a gesture that was misunderstood
In truth, the stories are always about someone doing something that could have been mistaken for something else. Or someone makes a gesture and is then told his gesture or behaviour is rude or even obscene in the culture he is visiting. That in itself says it all. The gesture was seen and recognized as not intentionally rude or obscene and the producer was informed about the mismatch. We guess the intentions of other people from the situation, the location, their signs of communication (be it speech, gesture or otherwise). So why did the gentle culture teacher point out the mismatch? Well, someone else could have taken offense! Of course, we are not stupid but we are afraid other people might by stupid and genuinely insulted.
The only first hand evidence, like here, is given by people with a commercial interest, for example in exploiting the stories in lectures or courses to business travelers. So, that is why I have put out a reward. Just send me a video, or preferably a link in the comments. If it is good (neither an enacted scene nor with commercial connections) I will contact you and pay you.
Update: I discussed this reward with some colleagues (GL, EO and A). They felt I shouldn’t be the judge so they volunteered to be a panel.
Update: The reward has gone up from
50 to 100 to 150 euro.
ps. Here’s the nice generator
Update – An ‘almost’ example: this bit of cross-atlantic communication between Bush and Merkel comes fairly close. Yet I do not think Bush’s gesture (giving a shoulder rub) was misinterpreted. It is a gesture of closeness, saying it is okay to let your guard down. This can be accepted by the receiver, who is then however in a bit of an underdog position. They both seem aware of this. Merkel, however seems surprised and her response is clearly one of not accepting. Instead of undergoing the shoulder rub and all its implications, she puts her hands up and smiles uneasily. To me this indicates she makes a compromise between shrugging him off and letting him save face.