Gestures are important forms of non-verbal communication, which include non-vocal bodily movements, intended to express a definite meaning. Commonly encountered forms of non-verbal gestures include nodding, winking and rolling of the eyes. Apart from this, movements involving the arms, hands and other parts of the body can also be used to express or communicate to one another. According to a research by renowned psychologists like Paul Ekman and Wallace Friesen, gestures can be broadly categorized under five headings: emblems, illustrators, regulators, adaptors and affect displays. Furthermore, they can be classified as speech-independent and speech-related. In the speech-independent forms, there is no use of any verbal communication and the gestures are culturally and socially accepted interpretations, like a peace sign or a simple hello wave. Speech-related gestures are generally used in conjunction with verbal speech, to emphasize the message that is being communicated. However, to send the correct and exact message, it is very important to master the art of non-verbal gestures. Very often, information is misinterpreted due to the incorrect coding and sending of these gestures. Go through the tips given below and know how to improve non-verbal gestures.
Improving Non-Vocal Gestures
- It is a well known fact that ‘practice makes a man perfect’. With frequent and regular practice, you will definitely be able to master the art of non-vocal gestures in a short period of time. A great idea that can help you in the process is placing a mirror in the front while practicing. This will not only provide you with visual feedback, but will also help you gain more confidence by the process.
- Always try to make the gestures appear natural and spontaneous. Never express yourself in ways that appear forced or rehearsed and also don’t allow your arms to constantly track each other in parallel manner.
- Avoid gestures that are repetitive in nature and recur over and over, at regular intervals of time.
- You can also record or videotape yourself while practicing. This will help you monitor where exactly you lag behind and which aspect you need to work more upon.
- In case you use the speech-related form of gesturing, find out at what point you need to emphasize more with your actions. This is particularly important in public speech presentations, where communication is the main form of expression, indicating the mood, passion and the aim of the presentation. Hence, give emphasis to the key points, words or phrases that you need to highlight more.
- Always use those forms of gesturing that are non-repetitive in nature. They are very distracting and often deviates one’s mind from the actual topic. Keep practicing your public speeches over and over again, gesturing only at the key points. Strictly avoid repetitive gestures like the constantly raising eye brows, pointing fingers, shaking arms, pounding fists, and so on.
- A major channel of interpersonal contact that helps in the smooth flow of communication is eye contact. The correct form of eye contact increases the credibility of the speaker and conveys interest, warmth and sincerity.
- You posture and general stance also conveys a lot about your motive, interests and purpose. For instance, sitting erect, but not rigid with a slight forward tilt indicates that you are friendly and approachable. However, speaking with your back turned or gazing at the ceiling or a floor is a clear sign of disinterest and indifference.