Body Language in Canada

Is Body Language the same or different in different countries?

If you answered ‘different’, you are right!


There are TWO important points you must remember about Body Language in Canada:

  1. Open, not Closed
  2. Do not touch a Canadian


Open, not Closed

Anything closed, for example a closed fist, crossed arms, crossed legs, head down, eyes down, tight lips, hunched shoulders, means NOT FRIENDLY.

Anything open, for example open palms of your hands, arms along your sides, feet shoulder width apart, back straight, smile, open eyes making eye contact, means FRIENDLY.


The appropriate length of eye contact in Canada is 2-3 seconds, after which you are expected break the eye contact and look at the person’s hands, shoulders, hair or other part of their face.

Canadians listen with their eyes. If you are not making eye contact (your eyes are down), Canadians will assume you are not listening to them. This can be also interpreted as disrespect. Remember: it is a sign of RESPECT to make eye contact with a person who is speaking to you.


Do not touch a Canadian

Do not come up to a Canadian and stand closer than 45 centimeters to them (unless you are in a crowded bus, then the rule does not apply). Canadians have a very large intimate zone (45 cm) and only the family members and close friends are allowed to be in that zone.

DO NOT TOUCH YOUR CANADIAN CO-WORKERS during a conversation  – that can make them very angry.

If you come up to a person to talk and they suddenly step away from you, STOP!!! This means you came up too close. Stand where you are and talk from that distance.

If you see a person fall down, DO NOT rush to help them up. Make eye contact and ask: “Do you need help getting up?” Only when they say ‘Yes’ it is okay to touch them! If you touch a person without their permission, you may be shocked at their angry reaction. Be careful. Always ask first.


Other points to keep in mind:

Pointing your finger at someone is considered an aggressive gesture.

Do not touch other people’s children.

Teenagers (high school kids) will hug each other (girls can hug boys and boys can hug girls).

Holding hands is a romantic gesture – if you are walking down the street holding hands, people might think you are in love.

Do not cover your mouth when you speak. Articulate your words clearly, do not be afraid to open your mouth.

French Canadian will greet each other differently (they may hug and kiss) than people from other parts of Canada.