Posted by: kenwbudd | July 30, 2010

Body Language of the Hands

“Among all species, our human hands are unique — not only in what they can accomplish, but also in how they communicate. Human hands can paint the Sistine Chapel, pluck a guitar, maneuvre surgical instruments, chisel a David, forge steel, and write poetry. They can grasp, scratch, poke, punch, feel, sense, evaluate, hold and mold the world around us.

Our hands are extremely expressive; they can sign for the deaf, help tell a story, or reveal our innermost thoughts.” (“What Every Body is Saying,” Harper Collins) No other species has appendages with such a remarkable range of capabilities. And yet if you asked most people about the nonverbals (body language) of the hands, they would be hard pressed to tell you all the things the hands reveal.

Despite the acquisition of spoken language over millions of years of human evolution, our brains are still hard-wired to engage our hands in accurately communicating our emotions, thoughts, and sentiments (“The Psychology of Nonverbal Communications,” Kindle Edition).

Therefore, whether people are speaking or not, hand gestures merit our attention as a rich source of nonverbal behavior to help us understand the thoughts and feelings of others.

It is interesting that our brain gives a disproportionate amount of attention to the fingers, and hands, as compared to the rest of the body. This could be in part because our first touch is with our hands and we seek the hands of our parents for safety or it is because the human hand can hold a weapon. For whatever the reason, we tend to focus on the hands and are mesmerized by them. Hitler used them to his advantage, as do magicians, orchestra conductors, and surgeons.

Our human need to see hands is so important you can try a simple experiment. Without revealing your intentions, hide your hands during a conversation, for the complete duration of the conversation. At the end of the conversation, ask the participants what they thought and what they felt as you conversed with them. You will find that people will sense something is wrong. In my work with mock juries, we found that attorneys, or for that matter witnesses, that hide their hands are perceived as less open and less honest by the jurors.

For more information read the full article here Body Language of the Hands

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