- Raised Voices: Lebanese have few reservations about yelling to make themselves heard and often speak with impassioned, loud voices. That being said, a raised voice is not always a sign of anger but rather an expression of a genuine feeling. A Lebanese falling silent or quiet is a stronger indication that they are seriously upset than when they argue at boisterous volumes.
- Language Style: Lebanese speak eloquently, often using quite verbose, theatrical and intense language. To an Australian, this communication style can feel overly exaggerated or pretentiously imposing, but it is not intended that way.
- Indirect Communication: Communication is indirect in Lebanon and one’s express point is generally reached in a roundabout way. The theatrics in mannerisms sometimes distract from the conversation, often causing it to digress. The Lebanese commonly try to interrelate subjects or merge discussion with other thoughts they have. If you are looking for a concise answer, ask direct questions that require an explicit answer.
- Refusals: The Lebanese are very generous people and do not like to let others down. Some who are very conscious of being polite may respond to a request with “I’ll see what I can do” (or something to that effect) no matter how impossible the task may be. After the person has been queried several times concerning his success, an answer of “I’m still checking” or something similar means “no”. Such an indirect response also means “I am still your friend/ally; I tried”. Tilting the head back while raising the eyebrows can also suddenly indicate “no”. The best way of navigating this rhetoric to find the underlying meaning is to check for clarification several times.
- Gestures: The Lebanese are quite animated communicators in that they generally use many expressions and gestures in order to prove a point.
- Personal Space: In Lebanon, people often sit and stand very close to each other. Some Lebanese may stand at proximities that Westerners are uncomfortable with. In this case, keep in mind that they may not have been made aware of the Australian standard of personal space and the awkwardness standing in someone else’s personal space can create.
- Hands: Those Lebanese who follow Islam separate the function of their hands. The left hand is considered unclean and is used for the removal of dirt and for cleaning. It is not used for actions such as waving, eating or offering items.
- Physical Contact: The Lebanese are generally very tactile people when surrounded by their friends and family. People often hug and kiss one another and walk hand in hand or with linked arms. However, public displays of affection between people of the opposite gender may be disapproved of in some places.
- Eye Contact: The Lebanese maintain eye contact during interactions, but not for long durations of time. It is important to meet their gaze in order to indicate sincerity and engagement.
- Head Tilt: “No” is not indicated with a headshake as it is in the West. Instead, one tilts their head backwards, lifting the chin and raising the eyebrows. It is sometimes accompanied with a “tsk”. This is not meant to sound rude but is simply part of the gesture.
- Beckoning: In Lebanon, people beckon one another by putting their hand out with the palm facing the ground, and curling their fingers back at themselves. The Australian way of beckoning with one’s pointer finger is considered rude.
- Feet: Displaying the soles of your feet is considered rude.
- Pointing: It is rude to beckon or point at someone with one’s index finger. Instead, the whole hand should be used to gesture.