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Can a woman touch a man's hand, arm in conversation

 
 
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tillielouwho
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Posted: Thu Nov 06, 2008 8:08 am    Post subject: Can a woman touch a man's hand, arm in conversation / Can a woman touch a man's hand, arm in conversation

We have an exchange student from Hong Kong staying with us. We are a touchy family. I went to touch the student's knee and he pulled away. The other day, the representative from the organization touched his hand and again, he pulled away. Is this a difference in culture or have we offended him? 
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Raymond
Site Admin
Joined: 21 Nov 2005 Location: Hong Kong
Posted: Thu Nov 06, 2008 5:02 pm    Post subject: / Can a woman touch a man's hand, arm in conversation

That's a great question tillielouwho! It is very sensitive to note this and to check.

Of course there are plenty of personal variation from person to person in any culture but I'd say that Hong Kong people are generally less touchy than, for example, Italians.

Many HK people would simply not really notice touches but certainly some would be disturbed by it. Even within families there is probably less touching in HK than in most European or US families. e.g. no kissing the head of children, or hugging of friends. Even handshaking is not common for students, though adults particularly in a business situation are fine with that.

I can imagine a HK student staying overseas might feel a bit out of his depth and hence nervous and therefore oversensitive also.

My suggestion would be to avoid any additonal contact -- particularly skin-to-skin.

I hope that helps.

Raymond
 
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