Let Me Hear Your Body Talk: Body Language 255 Speech of the Devil Badly timed and inappropriate body language is often a result of nervousness and inadequate planning. · The thumbs-up sign, which Americans take to mean "good work" or "go ahead," is a vulgar insult in Greece. · The circle formed with the thumb and first finger that means "OK" in America is obscene in Southern Italy and can mean "You're worth nothing" in France and Belgium. · To many Americans, shaking your hands in front of your body as though you were shaking water off them is a sign of mental retardation; to many Puerto Ricans, it's a sign of intense excitement. · Many North Americans see eye contact as a sign of honesty, but in other cultures, looking down is a sign of appropriate deference. · In Muslim countries, men and women are not supposed to make eye contact. · Americans smile much more often than people from other countries. The Japanese, for example, smile not only when they're amused but also to cover embarrassment, sadness, and even anger. · People in southern and border states tend to smile more than those who live in northern states. As a result, Northerners have been known to doubt the sincerity of Southerners. This problem plagued Jimmy Carter during his presidency.