It’s okay to talk with your hands

As long as you know what they’re sa­ying

La Jornada (Canada) - - ENGLISH SECTION -

As­tudy from the Uni­ver­sity of Chica­go a few years ago found that the mo­re ges­tu­res ba­bies used at 14 months (sha­king a head “no,” rai­sing arms to be pic­ked up, poin­ting at an ob­ject of in­ter­est, etc.), the mo­re words they had in their vo­ca­bu­lary at th­ree years old.

Which is no sur­pri­se to tho­se of us who study body lan­gua­ge. Ges­tu­re and speech are so tightly con­nec­ted that we can’t do one wit­hout the ot­her. Brain ima­ging has shown that a re­gion ca­lled Bro­ca’s area, which is im­por­tant for speech pro­duc­tion, is ac­ti­ve not only when we’re tal­king, but when we wa­ve our hands. And as we grow in­to adult­hood, ges­tu­ring be­co­mes mo­re com­plex, mo­re nuan­ced, and mo­re in­ter­es­ting.

Did you know:

• A blind per­son tal­king to anot­her blind per­son will use ges­tu­res.

• All of us use ges­tu­res when tal­king on the te­lep­ho­ne.

• When peo­ple are pas­sio­na­te about what they’re sa­ying, their ges­tu­res be­co­me mo­re ani­ma­ted.

• Stu­dies ha­ve found that when you com­mu­ni­ca­te th­rough ac­ti­ve ges­tu­ring, you tend to be eva­lua­ted as warm, agreea­ble, and ener­ge­tic, whi­le re­mai­ning still ma­kes you be seen as lo­gi­cal, cold, and analy­tic.

• On the ot­her hand, over-ges­tu­ring with flai­ling arms (es­pe­cially when hands are rai­sed abo­ve the shoul­ders) can ma­ke you ap­pear out of con­trol, less be­lie­va­ble and less po­wer­ful.

• So­me ges­tu­res ha­ve an agreed-upon mea­ning to a group and are cons­ciously used ins­tead of words. ( The “thumbs up” ges­tu­re in North Ame­ri­ca is one exam­ple). The­se ges­tu­res vary by cul­tu­re - and what is ac­cep­ta­ble in one cul­tu­re can be ru­de or in­sul­ting in anot­her.

• Many de­cep­tion cues are sub­cons­cious ges­tu­res - li­ke the hand to mouth or no­se ges­tu­res which are ty­pi­cally used when lying. (And, by the way, tho­se sa­me ges­tu­res are of­ten dis­pla­yed when lis­te­ning to so­meo­ne you don’t be­lie­ve.)

• Pa­cif­ying ges­tu­res are used to help us deal with stress: Any self-tou­ching can be cal­ming. You may rub your legs, pull at your co­llar, play with your hair, rub your neck, or even cross your arms in a kind of “self-hug.”

• Open palm ges­tu­res in­di­ca­te can­dor, whi­le hid­den hands (or hands in poc­kets) sig­nal that the per­son has so­met­hing to hi­de or doesn’t want to par­ti­ci­pa­te in a con­ver­sa­tion.

• Low con­fi­den­ce is of­ten shown by wrin­ging hands and in­ter­la­cing fin­gers.

• High con­fi­den­ce can be dis­pla­yed by a stee­pling ges­tu­re (palms se­pa­ra­ted and fin­gers tou­ching). You’ll see this used most of­ten by po­li­ti­cians, exe­cu­ti­ves and pro­fes­sors.

So, re­mem­ber, it’s okay to talk with your hands - as long as you know what they’re sa­ying! -TROYMEDIA

Troy Me­dia co­lum­nist Ca­rol Kin­sey Go­man, Ph.D. is an exe­cu­ti­ve coach, con­sul­tant, and in­ter­na­tio­nal key­no­te spea­ker at cor­po­ra­te, go­vern­ment, and as­so­cia­tion events. Ca­rol is in­clu­ded in Troy Me­dia’s Un­li­mi­ted Ac­cess subs­crip­tion plan.

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