The #1 Most Offensive Body Language Gesture – Are You Doing This?

Are You Turning People Off With This Gesture?

finger pointWhile many of us know what is considered offensive body language (i.e. don’t flip someone the bird, don’t violate their personal space, don’t touch them in personal places, etc.), there are other forms of negative body language people are not aware of.

And because they’re not aware of it, they can easily do it. Then they wonder why people are acting so harshly towards them. It may not be them – it’s their body language.

So with that in mind, what’s the #1 most offensive body language gesture you may be doing without knowing it?

The finger point.

This is universal. Nobody likes to be talked down to – and the finger point drips with condescension.


“In many countries throughout the world, finger pointing is viewed as one of the most offensive gestures a person can display. Studies show that people don’t like it when someone points a finger at them…In schools as well as prison yards, finger pointing is often the precursor to many fights.” – Joe Navarro, What Every BODY is Saying.


You probably have visions of your father using the finger point when he was lecturing you as a child. Or maybe you remember a particularly fiery preacher using the finger point from the pulpit. Chances are these memories don’t exactly give you the warm and fuzzies.

If you’re using the finger point – whether in presentations or to make a point with a client, you’re probably turning them off.

Now the finger point straight up to the sky is not as bad as the finger point horizontally – but it’s still not good. And it can still turn people off, even subliminally. If you’re trying to make a point, it’s better to use another gesture like the flat palm pointing up.

So the next time you’re making a presentation or in a sales meeting, make sure you’re not using the index finger point. Use other gestures that are not so subliminally offensive to get your message across. Chances are you’ll get a much better response!




One thought on “The #1 Most Offensive Body Language Gesture – Are You Doing This?

  1. David Bingham

    I never would have thought that a finger point could be offensive. I work in sales for a multinational corporation, so this is great advice. Thanks so much!


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