There are many hand gestures used by everyone for communication. According to psychologists, these hand gestures are helping you express your thoughts more effectively than you think.
Some hand gestures are communicative by convention. These gestures allow people to communicate at long distances where voices might not carry.
A wave of greeting, a thumbs-up sign indicating approval and thumbs down for disapproval, all examples of conventions that have been established to communicate whole phrases in a gesture.
There are other gestures that communicate within a sentence being spoken. For example, at the store, you might indicate which item you want to buy by pointing and saying, “I want that one.”
People who are lecturing or giving a formal speech will often move their hands in time with what they are saying. These hand gestures play a major role in coordinating the timing and pacing of what is being said.
One interesting fact of hand gestures is that they can help people to find a word. We all have had the experience of knowing what we want to say, but not being able to find the word. In this kind of tip-of-the-tongue situation, Gestures can sometimes help you out with that.
Another important fact about these gestures is that they do not seem to be primarily for communicating. For example, people still make these gestures even they are thinking about something, even when nobody is watching them.
A study analyzing TED Talks found that the most popular, viral speakers used an average of about 465 hand gestures, which is near twice as many as the least popular speakers used.
Other research has found that people who “talk” with their hands tend to be viewed as warm, agreeable and energetic, while those who are less animated are seen as logical, cold and analytical.
To further understand the concept of hand gestures Tom Scott, who makes interesting videos about linguistics, languages, and love has made a simple and powerful video explaining all we need to know about hand gestures.
In an episode of The Language Files, host Tom Scott explains why humans gesture with their hands while speaking. Linguists who study these paralinguistic movements have categorized them into five different categories.
1. Iconic: These gestures represent a literal object, such as a flat surface, or a car weaving through traffic.
2. Metaphoric: Gestures that symbolize an abstract concept, like “before” and “after”, or “working together”.
3. Deictic: That’s pointing to things, positioning yourself to people, or places or things.
4. Pragmatic: Like offering the floor to someone, or “don’t bother me right now”.
5. Beat: The rhythm of gestures alongside the natural stress patterns of speech.