Chapter 2. How the Signals Work

Since gesture is one of the words that usually come to mind when discussing nonverbal signals and cues, let's start there. A gesture is a movement or series of movements used to communicate a message. Now, that's a nice definition, but what does it really mean? Gestures and nonverbal movements or behaviors are part of who we are. Most often our movements are organic and spontaneous. Sometimes they represent what we are saying, and sometimes they don't. We often display emotions and thoughts nonverbally.

You want to be sensitive to the power that nonverbals have and deliberately choose those that support your message. Match your words with intentional gestures, those gestures made for a specific purpose. Nonverbal behaviors and groupings of behaviors, or patterns, when specifically chosen to correspond with your words, send an intentional message to the listener.

While hand gestures are the most common, any body movement can be an intentional gesture, such as rocking one foot on the tiptoe (unsure or coy), standing at attention with both feet together (neutral or no comment), or having one or both feet turned toward the listener (interest in listener). Some research separates facial expressions from gestures; however, for simpli-city's sake, I define gestures as any behavior or body movement, including those that involve the face.

Intentional Gestures Are a Powerful Tool

We all use gestures. We're just not always very good at having our gestures match ...

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