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Never knew this! Meaning of Indian head shake

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Fantasmo

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What? I lead a team on Indians once and one of the guys said that the wobble meant "I'm saying yes on the outside but inside I have misgivings." And the rest of the team agreed and that seemed true in my interactions with them.
Great, now I'm still mystified!
 

Fantasmo

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It means yes, it also means no.... and it also means maybe.
This is the truth. which is What i have been told and what i have observed
So then it means "here's how I feel about this". I'm going with that unless told different. Can someone Indian chime in?
 
Feb 27, 2008
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I was confused for a minute the first time I saw one but really, it doesn't take long to figure out it basically just means "OK".
 

mre

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What? I lead a team on Indians once and one of the guys said that the wobble meant "I'm saying yes on the outside but inside I have misgivings." And the rest of the team agreed and that seemed true in my interactions with them.
Seems consistent with the explanation in the youtube video posted above.
 

TimeEffect

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Mar 17, 2010
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It's not negative.

It's affirmative, it's confirmation, it's a greeting, it's understanding

I guess it's like the simple, instant downwards nod men give to each other. It's like "hey", "OK", "understood", "I see u"
 

whatsinaname

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Feb 13, 2009
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What? I lead a team on Indians once and one of the guys said that the wobble meant "I'm saying yes on the outside but inside I have misgivings." And the rest of the team agreed and that seemed true in my interactions with them.
True. For example, if you ask your foreman to build 4 storeys in a day, you will get the same head wobble. A gesture that is not a straight out no but something to get him past the current conversation.
 
True. For example, if you ask your foreman to build 4 storeys in a day, you will get the same head wobble. A gesture that is not a straight out no but something to get him past the current conversation.
phew, I'm relieved. Cause I'd often pulled the "Your head just wobbled. Tell me what you really think." card I mean it worked. So that's good. But I'd feel bad if secretly they were like "No man I already agreed with you."
 

Kinyou

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Sep 12, 2009
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Have only seen it in some Bollywood movies. Thought it was some kind of dance move.
 

desertdroog

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I suspected it was a gesture of affirmation or affinity.

Had plenty of of Indians on a team at my last company.

Now, I know.
 

Esch

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What? I lead a team on Indians once and one of the guys said that the wobble meant "I'm saying yes on the outside but inside I have misgivings." And the rest of the team agreed and that seemed true in my interactions with them.
as a brown man i can cosign this as well

but generally its like a really really versatile way of saying "aite", or "word"
 

Dark Octave

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Jul 2, 2007
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So, the guy in the youtube video says it could mean yes, no, maybe, confusion or whatever, but the article in the OP says it's yes, friendship, greeting and peace on Earth and goodwill to all men.

Now I'm confused.
 

methane47

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Nov 3, 2006
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I can confirm that this video is bullshit. He doesn't even do it right when demonstrating it.

The bobble is used as a gesture of understanding or affirmation. You can't use it to mean 'no'
Yes you most definitely can. Or rather its not a no.. Its just Not yes.

So intimidating person asks "Do you want me to feed you a knuckle sandwich?"
Indian guy : /head bobble
 

Window

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Is this really a big thing? I'm Indian (and spent my earlier years in India) but I can barely remember seeing anyone do this (universal gesture?). Or maybe it's so ingrained in my mind I've never noticed it...
 

Noirulus

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Yes you most definitely can. Or rather its not a no.. Its just Not yes.

So intimidating person asks "Do you want me to feed you a knuckle sandwich?"
Indian guy : /head bobble
Uhh, absolutely not. You wouldn't find a single person bobble their head if they were asked whether they'd like to get punched. Unless maybe they're a masochist.

It's often used as a reluctant yes, yes, "Yeah, I gotcha", and somewhat uncommonly an "I don't know" but it cannot be used as a no.

Is this really a big thing? I'm Indian (and spent my earlier years in India) but I can barely remember seeing anyone do this (universal gesture?). Or maybe it's so ingrained in my mind I've never noticed it...
Never used it myself but I remember it from when I was a kid back when I lived in India.
 

Fantasmo

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Is this really a big thing? I'm Indian (and spent my earlier years in India) but I can barely remember seeing anyone do this (universal gesture?). Or maybe it's so ingrained in my mind I've never noticed it...
I don't know how big it is or not, but both former friends and former coworkers from at least 3 different jobs, and random Indians all did it. So it is a thing, if not a big thing.
 

Schrade

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This wasn't what I was expecting. There's a woman that I work with who is Indian and she does a full on head shake (the normal "no" head shake where you swivel your head back and forth) when she is agreeing with me on something.

I'd explain something and then follow up with a question like "do you understand?" and she'd say "yes" and shake her head.

Throws me off everytime so I have to ask again and say I'm asking again because she shook her head "no". Heh.

I've never seen the head bobble.
 

RustyNails

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What? I lead a team on Indians once and one of the guys said that the wobble meant "I'm saying yes on the outside but inside I have misgivings." And the rest of the team agreed and that seemed true in my interactions with them.
Was the wobble left to right or up and down?
 

methane47

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Uhh, absolutely not. You wouldn't find a single person bobble their head if they were asked whether they'd like to get punched. Unless maybe they're a masochist.

It's often used as a reluctant yes, yes, "Yeah, I gotcha", and somewhat uncommonly an "I don't know" but it cannot be used as a no.

Never used it myself but I remember it from when I was a kid back when I lived in India.
In my experience people will use it when They are afraid to say no, Despite the answer being no.

For example for my work i have to train alot of indians. And if I'm covering a particularly hard topic, i will sometimes ask, "Do you understand?" and if their boss (my client) is in the room with them they will never shake their head no, they will instead bobble their heads and after training when their boss isn't present they will explain that they did not understand the topic and ask me to go over it one more time.

Other areas, if i ask an indian person if I pernounced their name correctly (and i didn't) - If they are working class they will most often bobble their head, while executives will more often than not be more vocal. Or gave a clear nod yes, or shake no.

This guy seems to say the same thing
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hCV2oO2akw

So like I said, its not a "NO" emphatically. But sometimes it can be closer to "No" than "Yes"
More like "I want to say no, but i'm worried about the reaction i will receive so I will substitute this "NO" for a bobble. [and in my book that counts as a no]
 

Toparaman

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Feb 20, 2013
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Wow. Had to search youtube to see what the article was talking about. I don't think I've noticed it before.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ0SuD_ulVk
That's because he's doing it wrong, as others have said.

Its funny that the guy in this video can't even do the head bobble properly
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrmDo52NnTY
This is the real Indian head bobble.

Me and my sister have lived in the U.S. our whole lives, but whenever we go to India my sister starts doing the head bob. What a poser.
Just kidding, love you sis.
 
Aug 7, 2009
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Any of my friends that are from India (1st generation immigrants) all do the bob. I aksed them about that episode of Outsourced, that only lasted one season on NBC, in which the American main character tried to figure this topic out too. The response was, "why do you watch a racist show, and why do you have a problem with me?" I must have had a terrible delivery within my question.
 
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