Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Give with Both Hands: Interpreting Body Language

Here in America, we're all about efficiency. 'Efficient' is quite the buzz word in many corporate environments, yet I'm still not convinced that its definition among this crowd is crystal clear. We're used to passing plates of food, papers, pencils, beers, change, credit cards - you name it - with one hand. That way, our other hand is free to draft up a business plan, crunch a few more numbers, eat a slice of pizza, conduct a symphony, send an email, write a text message, flip off a nemesis - you name it - anything.

Prior to actually realizing that certain cultures tend to use both paws for passing anything, I can certainly understand how this simple gesture actually did/does exude feelings of a half-assed, careless effort.. but who was I to judge? I was engaging in the same act. Of course, I cannot sit here and say that I've changed my tune and now pass all things with two hands.. in fact, it's usually just objects that are too heavy for one hand, or objects that hold some sort of religious value. I don't think I'd ever pass the Bible with one hand - there's just something inherently wrong with that act.

Regardless, there are a number of cultures & countries that view the passing of any object with one hand as supremely disrespectful; namely, Japan. In many Middle & Far Eastern countries, the left hand is considered unclean. This stems from ancient stories, during times in which the left hand was used to support the right hand to prove that a weapon was not being concealed. In this day and age, though the left hand is viewed as being unclean, it is still used to support the right hand during the act of giving or passing an object. That, in my book, still signifies the use of both hands.

Funnily enough, and a bit unrelated, I was recently at a friend's apartment outside of Boston. She has a dog, a mix of some sort. I went to pat her head [the dog, not my friend] with one hand while my other hand was out of her vision, and she started to growl at me. Cassie, my friend, then told me that Sophie has "a thing" with hands. Apparently she, too, prefers the use of both.. fair enough!

2 comments:

Meriel said...

Something I never thought about but is interesting. I don't think I ever use two hands.

When are you passing bibles?

Lil' Boozie said...

Did I make it sound like passing Bibles was a new hobby of mine? My apologies.. I've been in church quite a bit over the last couple of months for several weddings and funerals. In some of these lengthy Catholic masses, I've been at the end of the row and have been responsible for distributing Bibles to those that are interested.. it was more of a timing reference than a consistent habit :).