Our expert says:
Interesting question. Within a largely single culture, it's much easier --- words and gestures mean what they traditionally mean, there's not much ambiguity, and we know when we ought to feel insulted ! In a multi-cultural soiety ( and with increasing globalization, we're meeting and working with people from a wider range of cultures than ever ) we need to learn about such things, but also to be flexible, and recognize that we should interpret a wording or gesture acording to the culture of the person doing it, and the context and their expression, rather than what it might mean of someone back home did the same thing. There are few gestures that have an absolutely universal social meaning.
Also, to help interpret such behaviour, watch how the person interacts among others of their own culture --- does she also wave her finger when calling other people than you ?
I suspect that in the course of your week, you probably do a number of things which SOME people in SOME cultures would consider rude and insulting. In some cultures it's rude if you DON'T burp loudly after a meal, to show the cook that you appreciated it --- in others, it would be considered rude and uncouth to do so. In some its considered deeply insulting if you sit with your leg crossed and show the sole of your shoe towards someone else. So obviously in some cases you can't win ( to burp or not to burp ), and in others you could be awfully insulting without having the faintest intention of being so.
Generally rude people tend to be especially insensitive, and are probably considered rude and clumsy even by people of their own culture. I think that in white culture such a gesture would not be automatically considered rude or offensive, though in the way it was done, the words, the tone of voice, the facial expression, it might become so.
I think it's a pity that I haven't found either a good local book or website that would help us interpret the signals of all our cultures --- rude, complimnentary or amatory ( awkward if you didn't recognize that someone was praising you or wooing you ), and so on. Now There's a good task for someone to take on as a hobby ! I'm sure I'd be glad to help get it published !
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