HR Strange But True!
November 13, 2008

As if we didn't have enough to worry about when making a presentation, now we have to be aware of what our sweat-drenched hands could be “saying.”

In the “Ask the Expert” feature in a forthcoming issue of BLR's newsletter, Training Forum, Carolyn Finch, an internationally recognized body language expert, tells us that our hands can send “unintended messages” during talks. You want to be very careful of your hands and where you are placing them, she emphasizes.

For example, if you look out over the audience and push up your glasses while a learner is talking, you imply that “you don't want to see the picture that the person is painting.” Similarly, if you put your hand on your ear, you're indicating that you don't want to hear what the person just said, according to Finch. A finger on your mouth with your thumb under your chin sends a message that “you want to say something and are holding back.”

If you are speaking to a multicultural group, keep in mind that common gestures might have different meanings in certain cultures. For example, instead of pointing your finger at an individual, put your hand out and use a sweeping motion, Finch recommends. Finger-pointing is “judgmental” and, in some countries, “not appropriate,” she says.

In addition, according to Finch, the American gesture for “OK” (i.e., making a circle with the thumb and index finger and extending the other three fingers) means zero in France, money in Japan, and is a sexual gesture in some South American countries!

To prevent gaffes de mains, Finch ( ) suggests that you practice presentations in front of a savvy colleague who can critique your hands'--and the rest of your body's--performance. Oh yes, and what you are saying.

Source: Training Forum

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