Whilst travelling throughout Turkey you should be aware that hand gestures typically used in the US and the UK can have very different meanings to Turkish people.
Turkish people give the Italians a run for their money when it comes to communicating with their hands and arms. As in any country, Turkey of course, has its own body language.
Its best when travelling through, or visiting Turkey, to familiarize yourself with these common customs and etiquette rules that Turks live by.
Greetings among men, is generally a firm handshake and direct eye contact. You may also see men kissing each other on both cheeks or touching temples on either side of their heads, this is also very common in Turkey.
Greetings among women, is also a light handshake or if the women know each other this can be a kiss on both cheeks and a light hug.
‘Yes’ is a simply nod of the head similar to other countries but for ‘No’ the Turks raise their heads backwards and raise their eyebrows, sometimes accompanied by a ‘tut’ sound.
Raising your shoulders and opening your arms means ‘I don’t know’ similar to the UK and USA’s etiquette.
If you want to show trust in someone you can tap his or her shoulders.
As a sign of respect to elder people in Turkey, Turks kiss the elders hand then touch the hand to their forehead. This is a very respectful gesture and means ‘I respect you and you have a place on top of my head’.
If a Turkish person puts his right hand on his chest and bows his head, it means ‘Greetings through my heart’.
If a Turk waves his hand, palm downwards in a scooping motion, whilst saying Gel gel (come come), he is asking you to follow him.
A sign to be aware of is the ‘OK’ gesture. This is the meeting of the index finger and thumb forming a circle. Whilst in most countries this means simply ‘OK’, in Turkey it means homosexual and is considered a big insult.
In Turkey it is considered rude to point directly at someone. It’s also rude to sit with the soles of your shoes raised and pointing directly at someone because the sole of your shoe is the lowest part of your body and is considered unclean.
Blowing your nose loudly in public is considered bad manners.
Chances are, if you are in a tourist resort in the West of the country and accidently make one of these gestures you will be given the benefit of the doubt, but, if you visit a rural or more traditional region, try to avoid them completely.