Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hand Gestures Can Be Annoying

Gesturing has to be one of the more interesting methods of communication, don’t you agree? We all do it, and not only to express contempt for the manner in which the driver in front of us is operating his vehicle, although that may be among the most popular gestures. Gestures are used to summon someone (or your dog), to indicate that a zipper is undone (not your dog), to tell someone to call or e-mail you, to ask for a pause, and to express a lack of caring.

These gestures are more or less universal. I expect that if you put your hand up in a “stop” signal, anyone anywhere in the world would understand you. Most of the time, we tend to be unaware that we are using gestures; they become such a part of us that they are unconsciously part of our routine communication patterns.

That said, what do we do when the gestures we use on a regular basis are annoying to other people? Goggle Eyes, a software developer in England, recently commissioned a study on gestures that shows that many of our habitual gestures are indeed irritating to other people.

The most irritating?
1.      Air quotes (Pretentious and patronizing)

2.      Talk to the Hand   (Not only annoying, but antiquated as well)

3.      Putting a finger to your nose to tell someone to mind his own business (This is not the same as picking your nose, which is irritating for other reasons.)

4.      Blah, blah, blah

5.      Pretending to yawn

6.      Pretending to type to signal “e-mail me”

You may use these, though:
1.      Lift a hand to signal a waiter in a restaurant

2.      Swirl an imaginary glass to ask for a drink

3.      Place a finger to your lips to ask for silence
I can see that these findings on annoying gestures might be very useful if you speak in public, tend to pontificate when out with friends, or run for president of the United States. Do people find you annoying? Lose the gestures!